A brain surgeon in the US has said he expects to see computers implanted into people’s brains in his lifetime.
Dr Eric Leuthardt told MIT Technology Review he believes the near future will see patients allowing doctors to insert electrodes into their brains in order to communicate with computers, as well as each other.
The scientist and brain surgeon, who works at Washington University in St Louis, and has also written two novels and a play – one of which was based around the very subject of such implants, said such a future was “not hard to imagine”.
He says that a “A true fluid neural integration is going to happen”, and that “it’s just a matter of time” before the sort of technology seen in today’s smartphones is shrunken down enough to be easily implanted into people’s heads.
“At the pace at which technology changes, it’s not inconceivable to think that in a 20-year time frame everything in a cell phone could be put into a grain of rice.
“That could be put into your head in a minimally invasive way, and would be able to perform the computations necessary to be a really effective brain-computer interface.”
Leuhardt’s theory comes from his line of work, where he specialises in operating on patients with intractable epilepsy who must spend several days before surgery with electrodes implanted into their heads so information can be gathered about their brain activity and how it impacts their seizures.
This normally involves patients being confined to hospital beds, but Leuhardt has taken a different approach, having his patients undertake tasks and then analysing their brain activity.
This research has seen him become a believer that once technology advances enough, it will help humans evolve in the way they interact with computers and each other – even making them able to control prosthetic and third party devices using just their minds.