Connecting our Brain to the Internet

By: Antony Hampel

Sooner than one might think, browsing the internet might get a completely new meaning.

Government researchers in the U.S. are working on a project that would allow you to literally connect a computer to your brain and form what is called the cortical modem, which is essentially a direct neural interface.

That means that you could browse online without needing a screen, or even any sort of external visual hardware – you would “see” everything in your head.

Now while this may seem like something straight out of a fiction book (and a creative one, at that), it seems that the researchers at the DARPA (Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency) are bringing something that even fiction writers might have a hard time wrapping their heads around.

But, besides being a really cool concept, the idea has tremendous potential for practical applications as well.

Imagine what it could do for people who have lost their eyesight or other sensations – being able to plug directly into the cortex would potentially allow to bypass the individual disabilities and allow to restore the senses on a digital platform. Obviously, there’s still a long way to go before any of this could become reality, but even considering that such a leap is potentially within our scope is simply astonishing.

Another potential application is developing unparalleled and extremely realistic virtual reality experiences, which could mean a breakthrough not only in the entertainment industry, but perhaps even cause a shift in perception of reality.

And, when you think about it, it can actually open up some very real possibilities of telepathy, when minds could communicate through their brains via a simple connection.

Now, all this aside, it must be said that the project is still in the early development stage – such a complex process requires a merging of the brains’ neurons and is based on optogenetics, there are still many questions that need to be answered regarding potential health effects, as well as simply moving past the current stages of working with relatively primitive brains of animals and fish.

Still, you can’t help but feel excited for what the future might have in store, even though that’s probably what the people in the Matrix thought, too.

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Written by Ant Hampel.