Wednesday, 24 September 2003

Upgrade Your Brain to Wireless

From ZDnet Australia :
It could well be the ultimate in hands-free adaptors: A researcher claims that in a decade, people will have wireless networks in their heads.

This will enable direct mind-to-mind and mind-to-machine communications, claimed University of Reading cybernetics professor Kevin Warwick, who specialises in artificial intelligence and robotics. He is best known for his work in cybernetics, the study of control systems, especially systems that blend human nerves with electronic networks.

In a talk to students yesterday, he said that he plans to surgically implant a radio chip in his brain in about a decade, when such cybernetics technology becomes available. He is so keen on the idea that he claims the worst part of the process will be removing the device after the experiment.

An augmented brain will get so used to its powers--for example, being able to switch on a light by thought--that it will not be able to cope without the implant, he said.

"It will be such a trauma to remove it, the brain might not live. The implant goes in and stays in," Warwick said.

The brain implant will remain in his brain and will be permanent. In a widely-publicised experiment--some said stunt--a probe that was implanted in 2002 to link Warwick's nervous system to a computer and was removed after a few months.

He said that humans have limited capabilities to understand the world in three dimensions and communicate very slowly through speech, and hopes to use machine intelligence to expand human senses and to communicate through thought.

However, Warwick has yet to find a serious candidate to undergo the brain implant with him due to the possibility of operating-room complications and other life-endangering problems.

The U.K.-based researcher first implanted a chip in his arm that transmitted information to a computer in 1998, and claimed to be the world's first true cyborg, or cybernetic organism. This experiment allowed Warwick to be tracked as he moved about the department of cybernetics at the university.

In February 2002, Warwick implanted a probe into his left arm which allowed signals to be transmitted between his nervous system and a computer. The purpose was to investigate the transmission of movement, though or emotion signals from one person to another.
That's all we need: Telepathic Spam. Or a Hacker who wants to take control of your new and permanently installed "Sixth Sense". Although I'm all in favour of the idea in concept, I'd want a really good encryption on the communications protocols and fail-safe anti-jamming circuitry. This needs some careful thought before implementation - but implemented it should be. I'm not greatly worried about the Ops room dangers or medical complications : I'm terrified that the security measures will be less than first-rate, and probably tenth-rate like most of our communications infrastructure. Danger, Will Robinson!

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