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Do We Need Brain Implants to Keep Up with Robots?

Pundits have been fretting a lot lately about robots leaving humans behind, taking our jobs and possibly a lot more, as in The Matrix and Terminator films. Christof Koch, my go-to source for brain science for 25 years, has proposed a solution. To keep up with machines, we should boost our cognitive powers with brain implants. Koch, who directs the Allen Institute for Brain Science, which has an annual budget of more than $100 million, floats this idea in a Wall Street Journal essay, “To Keep Up With AI, We’ll Need High-Tech Brains.” The subhead: “Technologies that enhance the human brain will be essential to avoid a dystopian future fueled by the rise of artificial intelligence.” Koch looks at non-invasive methods, such as transcranial magnetic stimulation, but he doesn’t think those will be sufficient. “Ultimately, to boost our brain power, we need to directly listen to and control individual neurons: the atom of perception, action, memory and consciousness. And for that, we need to directly access brain tissue, requiring (for now) at least some surgery to penetrate the skull.” Koch notes that brain implants are already helping paralyzed people control computers and robots, and they are being investigated as treatments for depression and other mental disorders. Future implants could help us download huge amounts of information instantly, he claims, so we can learn “novel skills and facts without even trying.” Like Neo “learning” how to fly a helicopter in The Matrix!

Read More: Scientific American Blog Network

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