It’s been a weird day for weird science. Not long after researchers claimed victory in performing a head transplant on a monkey, the US military’s blue-sky R&D agency announced a completely insane plan to build a chip that would enable the human brain to communicate directly with computers. What is this weird, surreal future?
It’s all real, believe it or not. Or at least DARPA desperately wants it to be. The first wireless brain-to-computer interface actually popped up a few years ago, and DARPA’s worked on various brain chip projects over the years. But there are shortcomings to existing technology: According to today’s announcement, current brain-computer interfaces are akin to “two supercomputers trying to talk to each other using an old 300-baud modem.” They just aren’t fast enough for truly transformative neurological applications, like restoring vision to a blind person. This would ostensibly involve a camera that can transmit visual information directly to the brain, and then the implant would translate the data into neural language.