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Medicine Technology

Brain Implants Get Brainier 49

the_newsbeagle writes "Did my head just beep?" wonders a woman who just received a brain implant to treat her intractable epilepsy. We're entering a cyborg age of medicine, with implanted stimulators that send pulses of electricity into the brain or nervous system to prevent seizures or block pain. The first generation of devices sent out pulses in a constant and invariable rhythm, but device-makers are now inventing smart stimulators that monitor the body for signs of trouble and fire when necessary.
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Brain Implants Get Brainier

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  • Entering? Cyborgs? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 29, 2015 @12:33AM (#48929957)

    Oh shut up. Pacemakers have been around for decades.

    • But this is a pacemaker.... in the brain! Cue the patents!

      Seriously though, my mother just had similar done for tremors, these "brain pacemaker" procedures are actually pretty routine now.
    • Additionally, this exact tech was predicted in the early 70's: The Terminal Man [wikipedia.org]
  • Sci fi (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Iamthecheese ( 1264298 ) on Thursday January 29, 2015 @01:00AM (#48930019)
    Brain enhancements are a tall order. We need:
    • Better knowledge of human brain function
    • Microbots that can evade the immune system
    • Microbots that can move through brain tissue without causing harm
    • Microbots that can link together to from insulated wires, or build insulated wires that are safe in vivo.
    • Microbots that can transmit power and information through several layers of nerve and other tissue

    The thing is, we're getting there. These are no longer science fiction: the path to each of these abilities is very clear. And when these abilities converge we'll have matrix style give-me-knowledge-now and complete VR. Not to mention brain augmentation. This future is far, far closer than it seems.

    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by Ghaoth ( 1196241 )
      Haven't they already shrunk submarines down and injected them into blood streams?
    • by msobkow ( 48369 )

      We're "getting there" in the same sense that the Wright brother's airplane was "getting there" compared to a modern passenger jet or fighter plane.

    • The thing is, we're getting there. These are no longer science fiction: the path to each of these abilities is very clear. And when these abilities converge we'll have matrix style give-me-knowledge-now and complete VR. Not to mention brain augmentation. This future is far, far closer than it seems.

      I'd love to think that you're right, but to paraphrase the old Sidney Harris cartoon [ohio-state.edu], I think you need to be more explicit in your last step. Even if we could stitch up the whole brain with safe and robust wires and sensors, knowledge encoding is still largely a blank map.

      Of course, broad- and fine-scale read/write hardware interfaces to the brain will give us a big boost toward figuring out the harder stuff. But that's going to be a massive undertaking, and outside of hand-waving "superintelligent machines

    • Re:Sci fi (Score:4, Insightful)

      by jellomizer ( 103300 ) on Thursday January 29, 2015 @09:34AM (#48931217)

      In terms of brain implants, we are at the Peg-Leg level of sophistication. We can offer them a solution that will help with some problems, but it isn't a case where we can solve all the problems.

      So something that detects that a seizure will happen then does a pulse to stop it. Will help stop the seizure, but not cure all the problems, as well it may bring in some side effects, because the brain so so complicated.

      However for some reason we have been polarized to a point that we really can't judge tradeoffs any more. We want a 100% cure. We want our food to be 100% healthy and fill us up, and meet the taste we are craving, we want technology to Run Fast, Use little power, and be tiny. We want our contractors to be Cheap, Fast and Good.

      The fact that we live in this imperfect world, seems to have a lot of people paralyzed to the idea of progress where progress will sometimes means there will be a tradeoff.

  • Two tangentially stories seem to have been mashed together via short excerpts that lack context and don't make sense together as a single paragraph. Is there some point to either of the linked articles, or should I assume they're just as bad?
  • This sounds promising. I could use a memory upgrade.

  • 20 comments and no reference to The Terminal Man?

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

    A.

  • The challenge is in the accuracy. Generally a very small part of the brain has to be stimulated. Miss it and you could end up with a problem worse than the one you were trying to solve. When we figure out a way to more precisely target the right regions - a method that will likely take the surgeon out of the most precise part of the procedure - then we'll really be making great progress.
  • I've had an Apple pPod implant for several years. Love it. Best thing is direct access to the the Apple Store 24/7 and no bugs or malware*(^&&^*&^%-system-i98798-breach......

    http://sugarmtnfarm.com/2012/0... [sugarmtnfarm.com]

  • I can't wait till some marketing douchebag discovers that medical implants can be "connected" to the so-called Internet of Things", ostensibly for "quality assurance" and patient safety purposes. Then bingo! we have targeted advertising delivered straight to the visual cortex.

    Soon after, law enforcement will no doubt demand access to the data.

    This can not end well.

  • I'll be first in line.

  • Brain implants are the next major innovation that will usher in a new utopia for mankind.

    Just imagine.

    Whenever you see or hear anything copyrighted, the brain implant can automatically charge your credit card. Now that's convenience!

    This will be good for all. Everyone knows that protecting content is the highest goal and priority of mankind. Pirates are lawbreakers. Lawbreakers should not be allowed* to break the law.

    Your fiends at the MPAA and RIAA.


    * only the MPAA and RIAA should be all
    • You're preaching to the choir and you are also exaggerating.

      They will charge you when you decide to listen to something, not when you hear or see it.
  • Or has slashdot gone over the edge this morning? Crazy FUD shit goin' on heah! I'm not certain the premise that an implant designed to break up epilepsy is turning people into cyborgs, or even "entering the age of".

    At least not until we start integrating our brain implants into the Internet of "Things". Gonna take a mu metal hat to block that shit.

  • I'm not convinced there's any real progress here, I actually thought most of these implants were closed-loop already. However this still seems VERY crude ! What's going on here is that they're detecting patterns that are empirically determined to trigger an onset of an attack, and then just blast some indiscriminate region of the brain with electric pulses of which the parameters are also determined empirically .. Ok, it's a good progress for people that really need it, and for whom there are no alternative

The only thing cheaper than hardware is talk.

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