Brain Chips


Computer scientists predict that within the next twenty years neural interfaces will be designed that will not only increase the dynamic range of senses, but will also enhance memory and enable “cyberthink” — invisible communication with others. This technology will facilitate consistent and constant access to information when and where it is needed.
The ethical evaluation in this paper focuses on issues of safety and informed consent, issues of manufacturing and scientific responsibility, anxieties about the psychological impacts of enhancing human nature, worries about possible usage in children, and most troubling, issues of privacy and autonomy.
Inasmuch as this technology is fraught with perilous implications for radically changing human nature, for invasions of privacy and for governmental control of individuals, public discussion of its benefits and burdens should be initiated, and policy decisions should be made as to whether its development should be proscribed or regulated, rather than left to happenstance, experts and the vagaries of the commercial market.
The seminar initiated a discussion on the above topics, about what all were the evolutionary events towards this technology, the achievements attained till today in the field which included a number of devices designed to help man to live a better life, the benefits of implanting chips, the disadvantages and drawbacks of using these prosthetic devices, and the challenges being faced, which need to be dealt with.


The evolution and development of mankind began thousands and thousands of years before. And today our intelligence, our brain is a resultant of this long developmental phase.
Technology also has been on the path of development since when man appeared. It is man that gave technology its present form. But today, technology is entering a phase where it will out wit man in intelligence as well as efficiency. Man has now to find a way in which he can keep in pace with technology, and one of the recent developments in this regard, is the brain chip implants.
Brain chips are made with a view to enhance the memory of human beings, to help paralyzed patients, and are also intended to serve military purposes. It is likely that implantable computer chips acting as sensors, or actuators, may soon assist not only failing memory, but even bestow fluency in a new language, or enable “recognition” of previously unmet individuals. The progress already made in therapeutic devices, in prosthetics and in computer science indicates that it may well be feasible to develop direct interfaces between the brain and computers.
This technology is only under developmental phase, although many implants have already been made on the human brain for experimental purposes. Let’s take a look at this developing technology.

Worldwide there are at least three million people living with artificial implants. In particular, research on the cochlear implant and retinal vision have furthered the development of interfaces between neural tissues and silicon substrate micro probes. There have been many researches in order to enable the technology of implanting chips in the brain to develop. Some of them are mentioned below.
2.1 The Study of the Brain :
The study of the human brain is, obviously, the most complicated area of research. When we enter a discussion on this topic, the works of JOSE DELGADO need to be mentioned. Much of the work taking place at the NIH, Stanford and elsewhere is built on research done in the 1950s, notably that of Yale physiologist Jose Delgado, who implanted electrodes in animal brains and attached them to a “stimoceiver”[5] under the skull. This device transmitted radio signals through the electrodes in a technique called electronic stimulation of the brain, or ESB [8], and culminated in a now-legendary photograph, in the early 1960s, of Delgado controlling a live bull with an electronic monitor (fig-1).




Fig-1: A picture of Jose Delgado controlling a bull with the              “stimoceiver”

According to Delgado, “One of the possibilities with brain transmitters is to influence people so that they conform to the political system. Autonomic and somatic functions, individual and social behavior, emotional and mental reactions may be invoked, maintained, modified, or inhibited, both in animals and in man, by stimulation of specific cerebral structures. Physical control of many brain functions is a demonstrated fact. It is even possible to follow intentions, the development of thought and visual experiences.”
Delgado, in a series of experiments terrifying in their human potential, implanted electrodes in the skull of a bull. Waving a red cape, Delgado provoked the animal to charge. Then, with a signal emitted from a tiny hand-held radio transmitter, he made the beast turn aside in mid-lunge and trot docilely away. He has [also] been able to “play” monkeys and cats like “little electronic toys” that yawn, hide, fight, play, mate and go to sleep on command [5]. The individual is defenseless against direct manipulation of the brain [8].
Such experiments were done even on human beings. Studies in human subjects with implanted electrodes have demonstrated that electrical stimulation of the depth of the brain can induce pleasurable manifestations, as evidenced by the spontaneous verbal reports of patients, their facial expression and general behavior, and their desire to repeat the experience. With such experiments, he unfolded many of the mysteries of the BRAIN, which contributed to the developments in brain implant technology. For e.g.: he understood how the sensation of suffering pain could be reduced by stimulating the frontal lobes of the brain.
Delgado was born in Rondo, Spain, and interestingly enough he is not a medical doctor or even a vet, but merely a biologist with a degree from Madrid University. He, however, became an expert in neurobehavioral research and by the time he had published this book [8] in 1969, he had more than 200 publishing credits to his name. His research was sponsored by Yale University, Foundations Fund for Research in Psychiatry, United States Public Health Service, Office of Naval Research, United States Air Force 657-1st Aero medical Research Laboratory, Neuro Research Foundation, and the Spanish Council for Scientific Education, among others.
2.2 Neural Networks:
Neural networks are loosely modeled on the networks of neurons in biological systems. They can learn to perform complex tasks. They are especially effective at recognizing patterns, classifying data, and processing noisy signals. They possess a distributed associative memory which gives it the ability to learn and generalize, i.e., adapt with experience.
The study of artificial neural networks has also added to the data required to create brain chips. They crudely mimic the fundamental properties of the brain. Researchers are working in both the biological and engineering fields to further decipher the key mechanisms of how man learns and reacts to everyday experiences.
The physiological evidences from the brain are followed to create these networks. Then the model is analyzed and simulated and compared with that of the brain. If any discrepancy is spotted between the model and the brain, the initial hypothesis is changed and the model is modified. This procedure is repeated until the model behaves in the same way as the brain.
When eventually a network model which resembles the brain in every aspect is created, it will be a major breakthrough in the evolution towards implantable brain chips [8].

2.3 Brain Cells and Silicon Chips Linked Electronically:
One of the toughest problems in neural prosthetics is how to connect chips and real neurons. Today, many researchers are working on tiny electrode arrays that link the two. However, once a device is implanted the body develops so-called glial cells, defenses that surround the foreign object and prevent neurons and electrodes from making contact. In Munich, the Max Planck team is taking a revolutionary approach: interfacing the nerves and silicon directly. “I think we are the only group doing this,” Fromherz said.

Fromherz is at work on a six-month project to grow three or four neurons on a 180 x 180-transistor array supplied by Infineon, after having successfully grown a single neuron on the device. In a past experiment, the researcher placed a brain slice from the hippocampus of a monkey on a specially coated CMOS device in a Plexiglas container with electrolyte at 37 degrees C. In a few days dead tissue fell away and live nerve endings made contact with the chip.


Fig-2: The Max Planck Institute grew this ‘snail’ neuron atop an Infineon Technologies CMOS device that measures the neuron’s electrical activity, linking chips and living cells.
Their plan is to build a system with 15,000 neuron-transistor sites–a first step toward an eventual computational model of brain activity. [3]

The achievements in the field of implantable chips, bio-chips, so far are significant. Some of them are mentioned below:
3.1 Brain “Pacemakers”:
Researchers at the crossroads of medicine and electronics are developing implantable silicon neurons that one day could carry out the functions of a part of the brain that has been damaged by stroke, epilepsy or Alzheimer’s disease.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration have approved implantable neurostimulators [10] and drug pumps for the treatment of chronic pain, spasticity and diabetes, according to a spokesman for Medtronic Inc. (Minneapolis). A sponsor of the Capri conference, Medtronic says it is already delivering benefits in neural engineering through its Activa therapy, which uses an implantable neurostimulator, commonly called a brain pacemaker [10]. to treat symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.[5] Surgeons implant a thin, insulated, coiled wire with four electrodes at the tip, and then thread an extension of that wire under the skin from the head, down the neck and into the upper chest. That wire is connected to the neurostimulator, a small, sealed patient-controlled device that produces electrical pulses to stimulate the brain. These implants have helped patients suffering from Parkinson’s disease to a large extent. [4]


Fig-3: Computer chip model of neural function for implanted brain protheses

3.2 Retinomorphic Chips:
The famed mathematician Alan Turing predicted in 1950 that computers would match wits with humans by the end of the century. In the following decades, researchers in the new field of artificial intelligence worked hard to fulfill his prophecy, mostly following a top-down strategy: If we can just write enough code, they reasoned, we can simulate all the functions of the brain. The results have been dismal. Rapid improvements in computer power have yielded nothing resembling a thinking machine that can write music or run a company, much less unlock the secrets of consciousness. Kwabena Boahen, a lead researcher at the University of Pennsylvania’s Neuroengineering Research Laboratory, is trying a different solution. Rather than imposing pseudo-smart software on a conventional silicon chip, he is studying the way human neurons are interconnected. Then he hopes to build electronic systems that re-create the results. In short, he is attempting to reverse-engineer the brain from the bottom up.
Boahen and his fellow neuromorphic engineers are now discovering that the brain’s underlying structure is much simpler than the behaviors, insights, and feelings it incites. That is because our brains, unlike desktop computers, constantly change their own connections to revamp the way they process information. “We now have microscopes that can see individual connections between neurons. They show that the brain can retract connections and make new ones in minutes. The brain deals with complexity by wiring itself up on the fly, based on the activity going on around it,” Boahen says. That helps explain how three pounds of neurons, drawing hardly any more power than a night-light, can perform all the operations associated with human thought.
The first product from Boahen’s lab is a retinomorphic chip, which he is now putting through a battery of simple vision tests. Containing nearly 6,000 photoreceptors and 4,000 synthetic nerve connections, the chip is about one-eighth the size of a human retina. Just as impressive, the chip consumes only 0.06 watt of power, making it roughly three times as efficient as the real thing. A general-purpose digital computer, in contrast, uses a million times more energy per computation as does the human brain. “Building neural prostheses requires us to match the efficiency, not just the performance, of the brain,” says Boahen. A retinal chip could be mounted inside an eyeball in a year or two, he says, after engineers solve the remaining challenges of building an efficient human-chip interface and a compact power supply.



Fig-4: This artificial eye contains working electronic versions of the four types of ganglion cells in the retina. The cumbersome array of electronics and optics surrounds an artificial retina, which is just one-tenth of an inch wide.
Remarkable as an artificial retina might be, it is just a baby step toward the big objective—reverse-engineering the brain’s entire ornate structure down to the last dendrite. A thorough simulation would require a minutely detailed neural blueprint of the brain, from brain stem to frontal lobes.
3.3 At Emory University – The Mental Mouse:
Dr. Philip R. Kennedy, an [sic] clinical assistant professor of neurology at Emory University in Georgia, reported that a paralyzed man was able to control a cursor with a cone-shaped, glass implant. Each [neurotrophic electrode] consists of a hollow glass cone about the size of a ball-point pen tip. The implants…contain an electrode that picks up impulses from the nerve endings.
Before they are implanted, the cones are coated with chemicals — taken from tissue inside the patients’ own knees — to encourage nerve growth. The implants are then placed in the brain’s motor cortex — which controls body movement — and over the course of the next few months the chemicals encourage nerve cells to grow and attach to the electrodes. A transmitter just inside the skull picks up signals from the cones and translates these into cursor commands on the computer. [8]

1                                                                  Fig-5: Glass cone implants
3.4 The Lab-rat and The Monkey:
Rats steered by a computer…could soon help find buried earthquake victims or dispose of bombs, scientists said [1 May 2002]. The remote-controlled “roborats” can be made to run, climb, jump or turn left and right through electrical probes, the width of a hair, implanted in their brains. Movement signals are transmitted from a computer to the rat’s brain via a radio receiver strapped to its back. One electrode stimulates the “feelgood” center of the rat’s brain, while two other electrodes activate the cerebral regions which process signals from its left and right whiskers. “They work for pleasure,” says Sanjiv Talwar, the bioengineer at the State University of New York who led the research team.… “The rat feels nirvana.” Asked to speculate on potential military uses for robotic animals, Dr Talwar agreed they could, in theory, be put to some unpleasant uses, such as assassination.



Photo of Remote-controlled rat

Scientists say they have developed a technology that enables a monkey to move a cursor on a computer screen simply by thinking about it.… Using high-tech brain scans, the researchers determined that small clump of cells…were active in the formation of the desire to carry out specific body movements. Armed with this knowledge, [researchers at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena] implanted sensitive electrodes in the posterior parietal cortex of a rhesus monkey trained to play a simple video game.… A computer program, hooked up to the implanted electrodes,…then moved a cursor on the computer screen in accordance with the monkey’s desires — left or right, up or down, wherever “the electrical (brain) patterns tells us the monkey is planning to reach,” according to [researcher Daniella] Meeker. [Dr. William Heetderks, director of the neural prosthesis program at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke,] believes that the path to long-lasting implants in people would involve the recording of data from many electrodes. “To get a rich signal that allows you to move a limb in
three-dimensional space or move a cursor around on a screen will require the ability to record from at least 30 neurons,” he said


The future may well involve the reality of science fiction’s cyborg, persons who have developed some intimate and occasionally necessary relationship with a machine. It is likely that implantable computer chips acting as sensors, or actuators, may soon assist not only failing memory, but even bestow fluency in a new language, or enable “recognition” of previously unmet individuals. The progress already made in therapeutic devices, in prosthetics and in computer science indicates that it may well be feasible to develop direct interfaces between the brain and computers.
Computer scientists predict that within the next twenty years neural interfaces will be designed that will not only increase the dynamic range of senses, but will also enhance memory and enable “cyberthink” — invisible communication with others. This technology will facilitate consistent and constant access to information when and where it is needed.

The linkage of smaller, lighter, and more powerful computer systems with radio technologies will enable users to access information and communicate anywhere or anytime. Through miniaturization of components, systems have been generated that are wearable and nearly invisible, so that individuals, supported by a personal information structure, can move about and interact freely, as well as, through networking, share experiences with others. The wearable computer project envisions users accessing the Remembrance Agent of a large communally based data source.
As intelligence or sensory “amplifiers”, the implantable chip will generate at least four benefits:
• It will increase the dynamic range of senses, enabling, for example, seeing IR, UV, and chemical spectra;
• It will enhance memory;
• It will enable “cyberthink” — invisible communication with others when making decisions, and
• It will enable consistent and constant access to information where and when it is needed.

For many these enhancements will produce major improvements in the quality of life, or their survivability, or their performance in a job. The first prototype devices for these improvements in human
functioning should be available in five years, with the military prototypes starting within ten years, and information workers using prototypes within fifteen years; general adoption will take roughly twenty to thirty years. The brain chip will probably function as a prosthetic cortical implant. The user’s visual cortex will receive stimulation from a computer based either on what a camera sees or based on an artificial “window” interface.
Giving completely paralyzed patients full mental control of robotic limbs or communication devices has long been a dream of those working to free such individuals from their locked-in state.Now this dream is on the verge of reality [7].
Ethical appraisal of implantable computer chips should assess at least the following areas of concern: issues of safety and informed consent, issues of manufacturing and scientific responsibility, anxieties about the psychological impacts of enhancing human nature, worries about possible usage in children, and most troublesome, issues of privacy and autonomy. As is the case in evaluation of any future technology, it is unlikely that we can reliably predict all effects. Nevertheless, the potential for harm must be considered.
The most obvious and basic problems involve safety. Evaluation of the costs and benefits of these implants requires a consideration of the surgical and long term risks. One question, — whether the difficulties with development of non-toxic materials will allow long term usage? — should be answered in studies on therapeutic options and thus, not be a concern for enhancement usages. However, it is conceivable that there should be a higher standard for safety when technologies are used for enhancement rather than therapy, and this issue needs public debate. Whether the informed consent of recipients should be sufficient reason for permitting implementation is questionable in view of the potential societal impact. Other issues such as the kinds of warranties users should receive, and the liability responsibilities if quality control of hard/soft/firmware is not up to standard, could be addressed by manufacturing regulation. Provisions should be made to facilitate upgrades since users presumably would not want multiple operations, or to be possessors of obsolete systems. Manufacturers must understand and devise programs for teaching users how to implement the new systems. There will be a need to generate data on individual implant recipient usefulness, and whether all users benefit equally. Additional practical problems with ethical ramifications include whether there will be a competitive market in such systems and if there will be any industry-wide standards for design of the technology.
One of the least controversial uses of this enhancement technology will be its implementation as therapy. It is possible that the technology could be used to enable those who are naturally less cognitively endowed to achieve on a more equitable basis. Certainly, uses of the technology to remediate retardation or to replace lost memory faculties in cases of progressive neurological disease could become a covered item in health care plans. Enabling humans to maintain species typical functioning would probably be viewed as a desirable, even required, intervention, although this may become a constantly changing standard. The costs of implementing this technology need to be weighed against the costs of impairment, although it may be that decisions should be made on the basis of rights rather than usefulness.
Consideration also needs to be given to the psychological impact of enhancing human nature. Will the use of computer-brain interfaces change our conception of man and our sense of identity? If people are actually connected via their brains the boundaries between self and community will be considerably diminished. The pressures to act as a part of the whole rather than as a single isolated individual would be increased; the amount and diversity of information might overwhelm, and the sense of self as a unique and isolated individual would be changed.
Since usage may also engender a human being with augmented sensory capacities, the implications, even if positive, need consideration. Supersensory sight will see radar, infrared and ultraviolet images, augmented hearing will detect softer and higher and lower pitched sounds, enhanced smell will intensify our ability to discern scents, and an amplified sense of touch will enable discernment of environmental stimuli like changes in barometric pressure. These capacities would change the “normal” for humans, and would be of exceptional application in situations of danger, especially in battle. As the numbers of enhanced humans increase, today’s normal range might be seen as subnormal, leading to the Medicalization of another area of life. Thus, substantial questions revolve around whether there should be any limits placed upon modifications of essential aspects of the human species. Although defining human nature is notoriously difficult, man’s rational powers have traditionally been viewed as his claim to superiority and the center of personal identity. Changing human thoughts and feeling might render the continued existence of the person problematical. If one accepts, as most cognitive scientists do, “the materialist assertion that mind is an emergent phenomenon from complex matter, cybernetics may one day provide the same requisite level of complexity as a brain.” On the other hand, not all philosophers espouse the materialist contention and use of these technologies certainly will impact discussions about the nature of personal identity, and the traditional mind-body problem. Modifying the brain and its powers could change our psychic states, altering both the self-concept of the user, and our understanding of what it means to be human. The boundary between me “the physical self” and me “the perceptory intellectual self” could change as the ability to perceive and interact expands far beyond what can be done with video conferencing. The boundaries of the real and virtual worlds may blur, and a consciousness wired to the collective and to the accumulated knowledge of mankind would surely impact the individual’s sense of self. Whether this would lead to bestowing greater weight to collective responsibilities and whether this would be beneficial are unknown.
Changes in human nature would become more pervasive if the altered consciousness were that of children. In an intensely competitive society, knowledge is often power. Parents are driven to provide the very best for their children. Will they be able to secure implants for their children, and if so, how will that change the already unequal lottery of life? Standards for entrance into schools, gifted programs and spelling bees – all would be affected. The inequalities produced might create a demand for universal coverage of these devices in health care plans, further increasing costs to society. However, in a culture such as ours, with different levels of care available on the basis of ability to pay, it is plausible to suppose that
implanted brain chips will be available only to those who can afford a substantial investment, and that this will further widen the gap between the haves and the have-
not. A major anxiety should be the social impact of implementing a technology that widens the divisions not only between individuals, and genders, but also, between rich and poor nations. As enhancements become more widespread, enhancement becomes the norm, and there is increasing social pressure to avail oneself of the “benefit.” Thus, even those who initially shrink from the surgery may find it becomes a necessity, and the consent part of “informed consent” would become subject to manipulation.
Beyond these more imminent prospects is the possibility that in thirty years, “it will be possible to capture data presenting all of a human being’s sensory experiences on a single tiny chip implanted in the brain.” This data would be collected by biological probes receiving electrical impulses, and would enable a user to recreate experiences, or even to transplant memory chips from one brain to another. In this eventuality, psychological continuity of personal identity would be disrupted with indisputable ramifications. Would the resulting person have the identities of other persons?
The most frightening implication of this technology is the grave possibility that it would facilitate totalitarian control of humans. In a prescient projection of experimental protocols, George Annas writes of the “project to implant removable monitoring devices at the base of the brain of neonates in three major teaching hospitals….The devices would not only permit us to locate all the implantees at any time, but could be programmed in the future to monitor the sound around them and to play subliminal messages directly to their brains.” Using such technology governments could control and monitor citizens. In a free society this possibility may seem remote, although it is not implausible to project usage for children as an early step. Moreover, in the military environment the advantages of augmenting capacities to create soldiers with faster reflexes, or greater accuracy, would exert strong pressures for requiring enhancement.
When implanted computing and communication devices with interfaces to weapons, information, and communication systems become possible, the military of the democratic societies might require usage to maintain a competitive advantage. Mandated implants for criminals are a foreseeable possibility even in democratic societies. Policy decisions will arise about this usage, and also about permitting usage, if and

when it becomes possible, to affect specific behaviors. A paramount worry involves who will control the technology and what will be programmed; this issue overlaps with uneasiness about privacy issues, and the need for control and security of communication links. Not all the countries of the world prioritize autonomy, and the potential for sinister invasions of liberty and privacy are alarming. Nobody seems to intuitively have a problem with implantable devices for the blind, deaf, and impaired. However, biochips may become a (literal) invasion of privacy.
The Applied Digital Solutions “Guardian Angel” chip is implanted in thousands of household pets. Recently, however, a surgeon affiliated with the company implanted a chip in his arm and his hip to demonstrate how people with pacemakers could be scanned from up to 4 feet away.
Tracking stray cats was a promising beginning in the implantable chip business, but dismayed by the potential flak from civil libertarians, Applied Digital Solutions backed off from suggesting that its chips be implanted in small children and elders with dementia; the company is now marketing them (the chips, not the small children) as attachable devices.
Chips for pets haven’t raised any hackles. But the idea of injecting chips in humans disturbs anyone concerned about the shreds of privacy we still hold. Implantable chips are the penultimate identifier, next to DNA, which is what makes them scary. The technology isn’t there yet, but it will be. Future proposals to use chips to track prisoners, implantable devices in the military to enhance the abilities of soldiers, and cyber implants allowing information workers to communicate with
machines will make current concerns about digital privacy and medical information seem trifling. The potential for totalitarian mind control may be farfetched, but future bio brain implants could be like today’s digital cable–all those channels, but nothing on.
It is vital that world societies assess this technology and reach some conclusions about what course they wish to take.

Linking our bodies to machines isn’t new. For example, millions of Americans have pacemakers. Hawking depends on a machine to speak, as he suffers from Lou Gehrig’s disease, a degenerative disease of the nervous system. However, chips and biosensors in development are beginning to blur the line between in vitro and in silico. Implantable living chips may enable the blind to see, cochlear implants can restore hearing to the deaf, and implants might ameliorate the effects of Parkinson’s or spinal damage. Thought-operated devices to enable the paralyzed to manipulate computer cursors are being tested.
Plenty of good may be accomplished with these inventions, but I worry. Massively parallel biocomputers will consist of a puddle of cells in a bioreactor. What will happen when your biocomputer gets the flu? And “computer virus” will earn a whole new, literal meaning. (I don’t even want to think about the phrase, “The blue screen of death.”) The potential downside to biocomputing in the year 2030 may be eerily reminiscent of what often happens to lunches stored in today’s office fridge. If the power regulating the temperature in the bioreactor gets cut off, or wild viruses infect the biofilm coating your motherboard, or the office cleaning crew gets a little too enthusiastic splashing the bleach around, your IT personnel will have to don rubber gloves and hold their noses.
A researcher at Johns Hopkins University is using a collection of VLSI chips to confirm new insights into how the neocortex of the human brain unites information from the senses to create a coherent picture of the world. Andreas Andreou of the university’s Department of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering has wired the chips together with optoelectronic connections to build an image-processing module modeled on Boston University neural theorist Stephen Grossberg’s latest insights into brain function.
Grossberg recently proposed what might be described as a “net-centric” view of brain operation in which the communication channels between the brain’s processing modules perform a crucial blending of different perceptual units.
This view is essentially different from the conventional model that likens brain operation to parallel processors found in digital computers or analog distributed processing networks. Andreou is convinced that the shift in emphasis from processor to network holds the key to solving some of the difficult problems facing computer scientists.
“Despite the phenomenal success in engineering rudimentary ears, eyes and noses for computers, our progress has not generalized to more complex systems and harder tasks,” Andreou said in a presentation at the recent Critical Technologies for the Future of Computing conference, held last month in San Diego. It is at the neocortex level of information processing, where sensed information is assembled into a full picture , that current technology seems to run into a brick wall.
The greatest challenge has been in building the interface between biology and technology. Nerve cells in the brain find each other, strengthen connections and build patterns through complex chemical signaling that is driven in part by the environment. Also, in a stroke patient, whose cells are dying, we need to get surviving neurons to choose to interface with a silicon chip. We also need to make the neural interface stable, so that walking around or nodding doesn’t disrupt the connection.
Another challenge is to give completely paralyzed patients full mental control over robotic limbs or communication devices. The brain waves of such a person are very weak to accomplish this task.
Decreasing the size of the chip so that it can be implanted subcutaneously, is yet another challenge. This will help the patient to adapt to the implant more easily.
In July 1996, information was released on research currently taking place into creation of a computer chip called the “Soul Catcher 2025.” Dr. Chris Winter and a team of scientists at British Telecom’s Martlesham Health Laboratories, near Ipswich, are developing a chip that, when placed into the skull behind the eye, will record all visual and physical sensations, as well as thoughts. According to Winter , “This is the end of death… By combining this information with a record of the person’s genes, we could recreate a person physically, emotionally, and spiritually.”
MEMS (Micro Electro-Mechanical System)
The micro-electro mechanical systems device (MEMS) is an implantable micro-sensor that can send data to a hand-held receiver outside the body, alerting doctors to a potential medical crisis, without using any wires or batteries.
• artificial hippocampus: an implantable brain chip that could restore
or enhance memory .The hippocampus plays a key role in the laying down of memories. Unlike devices such as cochlear implants, which merely stimulate brain activity, this chip implant will perform the same processes as the damaged part of the brain it is replacing. It will be a way to help people who have suffered brain damage due to stroke, epilepsy or Alzheimer’s disease. There are several research teams in Europe and the US that are currently working on so called
• Cortical implant for the blind:
Electrodes implanted in the visually responsive areas of the brain would supply vision to the profoundly blind. Cortical implants require brain surgery and the pneumatic insertion of electrodes into the brain to penetrate the visual cortex and produce highly localized
• Subdermal GPS Personal Location Device
Such a device would allow an individual with a scanner to pinpoint someone’s position on the globe


As we become more dependent on biotechnology, the standards of what is “alive” will be up for grabs. Take a look at The Tissue Culture and Art Project’s semi living worry dolls, cultured in a bioreactor by growing living cells on artificial scaffolds, or the Pig Wings project, which explores if pigs could fly.
Deciding who or what, exactly, is human will be an incendiary issue in the years to come as our genetic engineering technologies progress and we go beyond implantables to actual germ-line genetic modification. We are already creating chimerical creatures by combining genes from different species. We will try to engineer improved human beings–not because we’re so
concerned about the intelligent machine life we are creating, but because we’re human, and it’s embedded in our nature to explore, tinker, and create.
It will be several years before we see a practical application of the technology we’ve discussed. Let’s hope such technologies will be used for restoring the prosperity and peace of the world and not to give the world a devastating end.
[1] Mingui Sun, Marlin Mickle, Wei Liang, Qiang Liu, and Robert J. Sclabassi, Data Communication Between Brain Implants and Computer- IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON NEURAL SYSTEMS AND REHABILITATION ENGINEERING, VOL. 11, NO. 2, JUNE 2003
[2] G. Pfurtscheller, C. Neuper, C. Guger, W. Harkam, H. Ramoser, A. Schlögl, B. Obermaier, and M. Pregenzer, Current Trends in Graz Brain–Computer Interface (BCI) Research- IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON REHABILITATION ENGINEERING, VOL. 8, NO. 2, JUNE 2000.
[3] Katzenschlager R, Evans A, Manson A, et al (2004). “Mucuna pruriens in Parkinson’s disease: a double blind clinical and pharmacological study”. J. Neurol. Neurosurg. Psychiatr. 75 (12).
The National Collaborating Centre for Chronic Conditions, ed (2006). “Surgery for Parkinson’s disease”. Parkinson’s disease. London: Royal College of Physicians. pp. 101–111. ISBN 1-86016-283-5.
[4] Parkinson’s disease surgery neurology Channel. Retrieved on 2010-02-02
[5] Bronstein, J.; Tagliati, M.; Alterman, R. L.; Lozano, A. M.; Volkmann, J.; Stefani, A.; Horak , F. B.; Okun, M. S. et al. (October 11, 2010). “Deep Brain Stimulation for Parkinson Disease: An Expert Consensus and Review of Key Issues”.
[6] The Forgotten Era of BRAIN , BY John Horgan.
[7] Ellen M. McGee and G. Q. Maguire ,” Ethical Assessment of Implantable Brain Chips”
[8] Dr. Jose M.R. Delgado, M.D. “Physical Control of the Mind” .
[10] The National Collaborating Centre for Chronic Conditions, ed (2006). “Surgery for Parkinson’s disease”. Parkinson’s Disease . London: Royal College of Physicians. pp. 101–111. ISBN 1-86016-283-5.

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