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Synapse: I think, therefore I am connected

By Johan Steyn, February 2022

The French philosopher and mathematician, René Descartes (1596–1650), is famously accredited for the dictum "I Think Therefore I Am." It became a fundamental statement of Western philosophy.

As a human, I am a thinking being. My thoughts, and how I perceive and interpret the world I live in, dictate my actions. Understanding how we think and how thoughts originate has been a topic of fascination and study for centuries.

The smart technology era is rapidly impacting the way we think, even influencing and dictating our thoughts. In the past, I used to hold technology in my hand: my smartphone. Nowadays we wear our technology in the form of smartwatches and other devices. In the near future, we will carry technology with us in the form of implants into our brains.

One day, not long from now, I will be able to say that I surf the web with my thoughts. I interact with others in the metaverse by imagining. I control the world around me with my brain.

A human will be implanted with Elon Musk's Neuralink technology later this year as part of clinical research. Is their "brain-computer" ready to be tested on humans? Hopefully, we will discover the answer in the not-too-distant future. In 2021, monkeys playing MindPong demonstrated the implant's effectiveness, demonstrating that it was actually advantageous. Due to Neuralink technology, the monkey could play in the game simply by thinking about it.

Elon Musk, who spoke recently at the Wall Street Journal CEO Council Summit, discussed the future of mind-bending technologies. "Neuralink's safety and efficacy have been established in monkey experiments. We're investigating whether it's possible to properly remove the Neuralink device and whether continuing to use it is safe and dependable."

According to Musk, Neuralink technology is a profound medical advancement since it has the potential to assist a significant number of people who have suffered spinal cord injuries and are unable to perform their everyday tasks efficiently. It is feasible to reclaim people's independence through the use of this new technology. "We plan to have this in our first humans next year, pending FDA permission," Musk said.

To collect and assess brain signals, they must be converted into commands that can be sent to output devices capable of doing the essential tasks. Brain-Computer Interface technology (BCI) operates independently of normal neuromuscular output channels. BCI may be advantageous for individuals who are unable to move owing to neurological disorders such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, cerebral palsy, stroke, spinal cord damage, or other causes.

Many members of the technological community have been anticipating the device's eventual debut with bated breath. This year, the Telepathic Brain chip will be implanted into a human brain for the first time, marking a watershed moment in the industry.

The convergence of technology with our biological bodies is the next step in our evolutionary process. Despite the numerous potential benefits, it can also open up a can of worms. It is one thing to influence the world around me with my thoughts, but what if my thoughts could be influenced from the outside by the same technology? Imagine the impact on privacy and on the foundations of democracy.


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