tv Earth Focus LINKTV September 8, 2022 1:30am-2:01am PDT
at the first sign of a health issue, physicians are notified for preemptive treatment. - it's pretty easy to see how cyborg technology can improve the body. but integrating it into the human brain is a far more complicated and dangerous task. neuroscientist. dr. john donoghue is forging the difficult path to this very future. - we're in providence to meet with dr. john donoghue, talking about implants, like i have the implant in my hand. he puts 'em in your brain. (laughs) john led a pioneering team that created one of the first brain computer interface devices. it's called braingate. - we actually peer into the brain and look at thinking about movement. when we first put an electrode in the brain, we didn't know whether somebody could control anything. - [angel] to decipher the connection between thought and tion, john implanted the braingate device in matt nagle, a quadriplegic.
matt was able to control computer cursor directly with his mind. - so the whole idea of a brain computer interface is to help a person who is paralyzed to be able to move again, or be able to communicate or interact with the world. - open. - [angel] john achievethis breakthrough by using computers to read the brain signals insideatt's skull. the first technology to do this was developed in the 1920s by german psychiatrist, hans berger. he invented an instrument he called the electroeephalogram, or eeg. the device measures the brais electric activity through the skull and represents it as complicated lines oa graph. however, decoding these brainwave patterns is an immense challenge, especially when the goal is to control complex movement. - imagine that those signals coming from your hand to control that were not coming from your hand, but from your brain.
and now you don't know what makes your brain cells active, so how can you relate what your brain cells are doing to that motion? and we dn't know whether anybody could ever learn to do it. - [angel] with braingate, john took the next very difficult step of deciphering a person's mental intention to move their body. - [john] so, the first thing we have to do, is we have to go to a place in the brain that has those signals. then we need to be able to sample the activity in the brain. - [angel] this involves surgically implanting tiny electrodes in the region of the brain at controls movement, the motor cortex. the electrodes directly observe and mease the activity of the neurons located there. - each neuron talks to lots and lots of other brain cells, other neurons, and it creates electrical impulses that are the communication languagef the brain. each one influences the other, and collectively they generate patterns of activity. - [angel] and the tiny electrode array picks up these patterns. - this electrode array is basically a ndred needles.
- oh my gosh. - yeah. so each one of these is what the electrode is recording and that is the electrical impulse of the neuron emitting its electrical impulse. so we actually aren't trying to interpret just that cell all by itself, but how- - how everything works together. - everything all together. it generates a pattern. - [angel] understanding this pattern is like putting together a thousand piece puzzle without a picture for reference. - our job is to take a look at all of those activity patterns, and try to make sense of what they actually mean, and what we use is a computer to translate, it is really like translating a foreign language. and sohat we do is whe we tell the computer, when you see the pattern that was recorded whenhe persothought about ving left, if you see that pattern again, then move to the left or move a computer cursor to the left. - using artificial intelligence, john can translate those brainwaves into a physical action,
far more complex than just moving a cursor. kathy huhinson who wasn't abl to move or speak becausof a stroke, was the first person to use braingate to control an external robotic arm and hand. is leap rward wi change the lives of countless people. but there's a big problem. the electronics required to amplify and translate these brainwaves are the size of a washing machine. how will technology like this integrate into the body to create a self-contained cyborg? john has the beginnings of a solution. - this wafer, which is something like four by eight millimeters, it has 1000 electrodes on it. now what's even cooler, that little square is equivalent to 10 of these things, all on a chip. what do we need to do to implant this into human? we he to figure that out. then we have to ask users, "what do you want?" if it has to be something sticking up
like a box on your head, actually, i worry that you would say that's cool. (both laugh) - you know me so well! - but most people wouldn't want to do that. - [angel] even though chips like these are small, they'd still need to connect to external computers with a tangle of wires. - given that electronics can do this, that neuroscience is not quite up there, but we're pretty good, but all of that information pulled together will get us there, we can do it. - [angel] the cyborg revolution depends on advanced versionof integrated brain interfaces like this, to read our most complex thoughtsnd intentions. but making devices le this that stand alone in the brain is not as far off as one might think. in a nearby lab, engineer arto nurmikko is developing tiny chips that will not only interface with the brain, but connect wirelessly. - so the first thing is to cut the cable. in order to particularly endow more mobility foa subjec
so he or she is t tethered to these massive volumes of electronics - he calls these prototypes, neurograins. they look like glitter. - what they are are individual tiny little chiplets, about the size of grain of salt each, and they have internal electronics. there we go, that's neurograins. the physical size mes that there is safety in implanting such tiny little objects in the brain without using damage. - [angel] thousands of neurograins could be distributed across the surface of the brain to record and broadcast neur activity wirelessly. - each one of these little chiplets would be like a little cellphone that's able to capture some of these neural signals and then spew them out streaming your thoughts in real time. - that's wild to think about. using computers, arto is developing cutting edge techniques to interpret these complex signals.
- we use machine learning to decode or understand what those 10,000 little cellphones are actually telling you or me abt my intention or your intention not only to move an arm, but perhaps do much more complicad movements. - [angel] this same technology could also be used like a two-way radio, not just sending, but receiving thoughts as well. - if we project forward and begin to contemplate, or at least imagine the possibility of using electronic methods or mmunication with the brain, for people who don't have any particular disability. - right, enhancement's over restorative. - right, exactly. so that's how the concept s taken its first steps towards reality. - it's really cool. connecting the brain with machines, allowing a person to send and receive thoughts, would be a monumental breakthrough.
- [narrator] in the future, brain implants replace computers and connect wirelessly with the internet. electronic communications like eils and text messages are composed and sent using thoughts alone. mental snapshots and dreams can be uploaded to the cloud and shared with friends. every word in any language written and spoken, is directly translated and accessible to any brain. now that humans off source mental chores like memorization, the full potential of the human brain is unleashed. - [angel] throughout human history, so-called psychics have claimed dubiously that they can read people's minds. but as we blaze a trail to the cyborg future, raiding thoughts aided by technology seems more and more possible. but how would that kind of telepathy work? i'm in seattle to meet dr. rajesh rao, who's actually developing science based telepathy.
- we began thinking about this idea of extracting information from a brain and send it to a different person. computer assisted telepathy. brain to brain communication. - this radical technology lets individuals use computers to telepathically control other people. so what kind of reaction have you gotten to your research? do people think it's cool, or kind of scary or? - all of that actually. so you had reactions ranging from, it's amazing, it's cool, it's so sci-fi, to people whwho are scared about it's kind of technology. - [angel] but when people just to the concept, this is what the cyborg future will look like. - are you ready to interface? - yeah, i think so. and i'm going to give it a try. - you'll be wearing a brain computer interface cap that will be tapping into the electrical signals that we are measuring at your scalp, which in turn reflects the underlying brain activity. - oh wow. look at this room. (all laugh) rajesh's team fits me with a 32 electrode eeg cap.
the cap will observe and measure the electrical tivity of my brain. - so right here. it all manages wires. - the computer reads the signals from the eeg cap to interpret my intentions. does this look cool? do i look cool? - oh yeah. - yes. you look like you're from the future, even more so. - "even more so", i was like... (laughs) (upbeat chiptune music) my mission is to play a video game through another person using computer assisted telepathy. if this works, my brain will actually control the her person's body. - oh, we're almost there, preston, 11. i think we're good. - think we're good? - yeah. - and here's the kicker. the other player will not see the video game at all. - so what are we gonna do is have you control the cursor on a computer screen, and that message is going to be sent over to jane here. - so jane will be receiving your thoughts through this tms,
transcranial magnetic stimulation device. - yeah, i'm excited to feel your brainwave. (angel laughs) - all right. let's figure this out. (laughs) the tms device uses pulses of magnetic radiation to stimulate the neurons in jane's brain. - it'll send a message to the motor cortex region of her brain, and that in turn will cause her hand to move, and in turn it'll allow her to play a computer game that she's noteeing. - [angel] let's see if this wild contraption works. my goal is to use my thoughts to control jane's hand. - if you want to send a "yes" signal, you just pay attention to the left light. and by focusing on that, the ball should move to the corresponding direction. (gentle apprehensive music) - by concentrating on the area of the screen that says either "yes" or "no",
i can move the cursor left or righto indicate my choice just by thinking about it. when ielect "yes jane will receive the stimulation in h brain from the tms device to click her computer mouse. - [tecicia no stimation. - [angel] now it's time to see if i can send a sign to jane's brain just by thinking and selecting "yes". (gentle apprehensive music continues) - yes. - rely? - yeah. - what did you feel? - there's a little t at the back my head and then my wrist and my fingers just moved. - [angel] using my thoughts alone, computer assisted telepathy lets me control another person's physical movement. - i know i'm not thinking to move it, my hand just moves.
it's like a reflex, like when someone kicks your knee and it jt move that's what it feels like. - th's so weird. rajesh is using this technology to forge a cyborg future even more mind blowing. - our goal is to connect brains together so that the connected brains can solve a problem that none of the brains individually could solve. - networking the minds of entire communities and industries together could radically transform society. is the plan to have more people to have the whole net kind of thing? - yeah, so in the future, maybe you can unleash the kind of creativity that a single person cannot. so by having many brains collaborate on a prect together, perhaps you can solve very hard problems. - by networking brains with complimentary stngths, the whole would be greater than the sum of its parts. - and with this kind of mind melding cyborg synergy, humankind might invent new forms of green energy and reverse global warming, decipher the mysteries of human consciousness,
or even answer the question of what happened before the big bang? the sky is no longer the limit. but with any new and disruptive technologies, society needs to weigh the benefits against the risks. how cyborg technology will change the world is unpredictab. - as with any device, we need to look at the privacy and safety issues. more so in the case of brain computer interfaces, because it has the potential to change whyou are. [angel] it's easy to take for granted that the contents of our brains belong to us, but in the cyborg future, that might not be the case. that personal, private information that makes every person unique, could potentially be abused. - in this world of neuro tenologies ethics is hugely iortant. you could call the invaon of your brain as being the ultimate sacrifice or ultimate leap, or you could say, well, it's just another incremt
in the pathway of sing the ultimate privacy, which is the privacy of your own thoughts - [angel] and in the future, who will benefit from things like cognitive enhancement? will the privileged be the only ones that can afford to download a lifetime of learning into their children's brains? or will everyone gain access? the cyborg revolution has the potential to upend society. but many are excited about the transformative possibilities of a cyborg future. - let's imagine we are linked neurally, right? we'd lose the language completely, and now it's just thoughts and feelings and concepts and who knows, right? so it could definitely fundamentally change humanity. - i really believe that this technology can, when it becomes part of us, make us more of what we really are, which is human. - [angel] despite some valid concerns, i'm hopeful that science, technology and human spirit will find helpful solutions.
as for me, i expect everyone will become a cyborg one day. and i can see a future where individuals choose to upgrade their physical body parts with robotic ones ones that have better features. the cyborg revolution is coming, and as a cyborg myself, i couldn't be more excited. (gentle sanguine music)