Apr 14, 2019 10:54 PM EDT
Imagine the world of science fantasy movies about communicating directly from and to the brain become a reality. This is the prediction of UC Berkeley and the US Institute for Molecular Manufacturing.
The team of scientists published their prediction in Frontiers in Neuroscience regarding the development of a "Human Brain/Cloud Interface" (B/CI) that "connects brain cells to vast cloud-computing networks in real time," as reported by Medical Xpress.
This forecast is brought about by the development in the fields of nanomedicine, nanotechnology, AI, and computation.
Ray Kurzweil was the brain leader of the B/CI concept. Senior research author Robert Freitas, Jr., hypothesized that neural nanorobots could be a link between the "synthetic neocortex" in the cloud and the neocortex of the human brain, which is the most intelligent and conscious part of the brain.
The brain cells would be controlled and monitored in real-time by the neural nanorobots, the brainchild of Freitas.
"These devices would navigate the human vasculature, cross the blood-brain barrier, and precisely autoposition themselves among, or even within brain cells," explains Freitas. "They would then wirelessly transmit encoded information to and from a cloud-based supercomputer network for real-time brain-state monitoring and data extraction."
It is claimed that the brain could download information through this synthetic cortex in the cloud. "A human B/CI system mediated by neuralnanorobotics could empower individuals with instantaneous access to all cumulative human knowledge available in the cloud, while significantly improving human learning capacities and intelligence," says lead author Dr. Nuno Martins.
B/CI technology has the potential to develop a future "global superbrain" that would serve as the main center in connecting AIs and individual human brains to gather and process data collectively.
"While not yet particularly sophisticated, an experimental human 'BrainNet' system has already been tested, enabling thought-driven information exchange via the cloud between individual brains," explains Martins. "It used electrical signals recorded through the skull of 'senders' and magnetic stimulation through the skull of 'receivers,' allowing for performing cooperative tasks.
"With the advance of neuralnanorobotics, we envisage the future creation of 'superbrains' that can harness the thoughts and thinking power of any number of humans and machines in real time. This shared cognition could revolutionize democracy, enhance empathy, and ultimately unite culturally diverse groups into a truly global society."
There are challenges that involve the development of B/CI technology. One of these is the transfer of neural data to and from supercomputers in the cloud.
"This challenge includes not only finding the bandwidth for global data transmission," cautions Martins, "but also, how to enable data exchange with neurons via tiny devices embedded deep in the brain."
One solution proposed by the authors is the use of 'magnetoelectric nanoparticles' to effectively amplify communication between neurons and the cloud.
"These nanoparticles have been used already in living mice to couple external magnetic fields to neuronal electric fields - that is, to detect and locally amplify these magnetic signals and so allow them to alter the electrical activity of neurons," explains Martins. "This could work in reverse, too: electrical signals produced by neurons and nanorobots could be amplified via magnetoelectric nanoparticles, to allow their detection outside of the skull."
The greatest concern would be the safe circulation in the brain of these nanoparticles and nanorobots.
"A detailed analysis of the biodistribution and biocompatibility of nanoparticles is required before they can be considered for human development. Nevertheless, with these and other promising technologies for B/CI developing at an ever-increasing rate, an 'internet of thoughts' could become a reality before the turn of the century," Martins concludes.
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