Illustration for article titled Those brain implants may be trickier than you realized

Ramez Naam, author of Nexus and Crux, has speculated a lot about humans being merged with machines — but he's actually quite skeptical about how quickly this will happen in reality. He's also not sure the Singularity is coming in his lifetime.


Naam is guest blogging over at Charles Stross' blog AntiPope, and all of his posts are incredibly worth reading. In his latest post, he talks about the challenges involved in putting implants into your brain — chief among them the surgical challenges:

The safety bar for doing a surgery to implant something in the human body (let along the human brain) is extremely high.

Indeed, brain surgery itself is biggest barrier to progress here. We're going to need new, less invasive ways to interface brains and electronics if we ever want this to take off. In Nexus I proposed doing this by self-assembling nano-structures, each component of which is small enough to cross the blood-brain barrier. It's sort of a barely-plausible hand wave. Real neuroscientists, however, have somewhat similar ideas. Rudolfo Llinas, who was the Editor in Chief of the journal Neuroscience for 20 years, has proposed inserting somewhere between tens of thousands and millions of nanowires into the brain by sliding them into an artery somewhere else in your body. This approach needs no brain surgery.

If we could upgrade our brains via implants, that would give us a huge advantage in the race against the machines — but meanwhile, we are already using our technology as a "cognitive prosthesis," says Naam.

It's definitely worth reading all of Naam's posts over at Antipope, including the fascinating discussion about the Singularity.


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