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Brain-computer interface

How Brain-to-Brain Interfaces Will Make Things Difficult for Us

Written by David Lyreskog

Four images depicting ‘Hivemind Brain-Computer Interfaces’, as imagined by the AI art generator Midjourney.
‘Hivemind Brain-Computer Interfaces’, as imagined by the AI art generator Midjourney


A growing number of technologies are currently being developed to improve and distribute thinking and decision-making. Rapid progress in brain-to-brain interfacing, and hybrid and artificial intelligence, promises to transform how we think about collective and collaborative cognitive tasks. With implementations ranging from research to entertainment, and from therapeutics to military applications, as these tools continue to improve, we need to anticipate and monitor their impacts – how they may affect our society, but also how they may reshape our fundamental understanding of agency, responsibility, and other concepts which ground our moral landscapes.Read More »How Brain-to-Brain Interfaces Will Make Things Difficult for Us

Mind-controlled limbs and redefining the self

Image credit: University of Pittsburgh/UPMC

This week there were reports of the amazing advances being made in brain-computer interface (BCI) technology. Following just weeks of training, a 52-year old woman, paralysed from the neck down, was able to use her mind to control a robotic hand to pick up objects on a table, including cones, blocks and small balls, and put them down at another location. She was even able to use the hand to feed herself chocolate.

Having had two arrays of microelectrodes surgically implanted into her left motor cortex, Jan is wired up to a computer that has been programmed to interpret the signals her neurons emit. This computer then passes on the interpreted signals to the robotic arm, which moves in accordance with the signals in real time.

Aside from the awesomeness of the technology, the use of neuroprostheses such as this raises a whole host of interesting philosophical and ethical questions. Particularly as the technology gets more sophisticated and more integrated, the distinction between the machinery being used and the person using it will become increasingly blurred. In the video, Jan already describes how she went from having to ‘think’ the commands (‘clockwise, up, down, forward, back…’) to merely having to ‘look at the target’ to effect accurate movement of the arm. This phenomenon is sometimes labeled ‘transparency of use’, where a tool serves a person’s goals without itself being an object of effortful control.Read More »Mind-controlled limbs and redefining the self