We have been using technology for decades now. From vacuum tubes to handheld supercomputers we have come a long way with the innovation train. What we have been using yet is still limited to what we can see via eyes or touch with our hands. And so the next level of using technology is to directly connect it with nature’s greatest technology ever, our brain! But are we as human beings truly ready to open our brains and let the machines do the magic!? In this article, I will try to discuss possible ethical issues with the same and whether we truly need to go to the next level.
Direct Neural Interface is a type of Invasive Brain-Computer Interface where electrodes are embedded within your brain, directly interfacing with individual neurons. Although it is the Holy Grail of BCI providing the highest quality signals for direct communication with the brain, it comes with a cost, perhaps a huge one.
Direct Neural Interfacing needs intracranial surgery which is highly risky even for cutting edge medical science. It can cause infection, hemorrhaging in the brain thus risking the life of the subject. Even if these problems are overcome there is a high chance for a DNI system collapse. This is because of micro-electrodes are highly incompatible with biological neurons. The brain is constantly adapting and plastic in nature. As the wires embedded are stationary they can’t maintain their interfacing for a long time with the neurons and hence the system is unstable.
That was about how DNI can physically affect your brain. But what about the other side of the same coin? Once we connect our brain to the machines there could be no limits to how a person’s psychology might get affected! On the one hand, DNI can help a person improve his cognitive abilities by assisting in learning. But on the other, the same DNI can disrupt normal cognitive capacities of the person by intervening in crucial brain processes. One of the most important issues which we all should be worrying about the possibility of biohacking your brain and what effects it could have on us as individuals. We already know how much costs companies have to pay when their systems are hacked but can we imagine the cost that a brain-hacked individual will have to pay? As we already know that our experience and memories are what make us a unique individual. But when we directly connect our brains to machines there could be no guarantee to safeguard those very same memories.
So how can DNI’s change us as an individual? That question my friends is for another time. Until then I’ll let your mind wander in the world of Direct Neural Interfacing!