#1 – Transfering Of Consciousness To A Computer.
There could be a day when you wake up someday and find yourself inside a computer, staring through the screen. The cameras will be your eyes and you would be basically be living in a matrix liked world. Welcome to the new age of connectionist.
The origin of our consciousness had baffled neuroscientists for many years. One of the promising of our consciousness lies in the way our our neurons are connected.Our brain is made of 100 billions of neurons, each connected with over 10,000 neighbouring neurons. This give rise to an incredible huge number of unique pattern of connections, capable of accommodating every human beings consciousness for every seconds of their life. This unique pattern of neural wiring is called connectome
Sebastian Seung, a rising star in neuroscience, gave a very good explanation of what connectome is. He said our brain is like river. Just like how water flow through pre-determined pathways, our brain electrical impulses also flow through pre-determined pathways. Also, just like how river water can erode surrounding rocks and changing the way it flows. Brain electrical impulses can also rewires our neural connection and change the way our brain process information.
If Sebastian Seung were right that our consciousness lies in our connectome, then we could eventually extend our consciousness to a computer by mapping our connectome out and uploading it to a computer. However, mapping our connectome is an extremely difficult and tedious process.
In order to map someone connectome, their brain have to be sliced into many microscopic slides. Each slides have to analysed to create a 3D modeling of a neuron. Multiplying it with 100 billions neurons would finally give us a complete connectome.
But new computing technologies are simplifying the process of mapping out a human connectome. And when scientist are done developing computer chips that mimic our brain cells, we could see a human consciousness being projected into a computer. Allowing the person to attain immortality.
#2 – Pain Control By Neuroimaging Therapy
New MRI technologies have shrunk the time needed to develop a 3D scan of your brain from weeks to mere seconds. Now you can see the parts of your brain that is being activated when you perform certain cognitive task. According to Christopher DeCharms, a professor from the Stanford School of Medicine, he believed that if you can see your brain, you can control it.
In a study to investigate the effect of thinking on brain activities, Professor Christopher Decharms latched a device onto his students. The device will heat up to induce localized pain while at the same time, his students brain were scanned in real time. Professor Christopher Decharms found that when his students were asked to focus on the region of their brain that lit up during the pain treatment, his students were able to control pain intensity by 23% and 38% in pain unpleasantness
Furthermore, his student began to develop more control of pain after several practice. Such technologies could eventually be used to help chronic pain suffers to reduce their reliance on drugs. Also, militaries could use it help soldier improve their pain threshold and mental toughness to better cope with stressful combat situation.
#3 – Mind Controlled Robotics.
Our blood contains large amount of iron. Due to the unique magnetic properties of iron, blood flow can actually cause a fluctuation in magnetic fields. These fluctuation can be picked up by sensitive instruments to help neuroscientists determine the rate of blood flow to a specific part of our brain. And rate of blood flow is a good indicator of brain activity, giving us a real time data on our brain activity.
The fluctuation of blood flow in different area of our brain is unique to specific cognitive task. For example, visualizing raising both your hand will produce a unique pattern as compared to lifting up your left hand. And when instruments pick up a unique pattern, it indicates that the person is performing that specific cognitive task.
So to control a robot with just thoughts, a person is asked to visualize a set of movement. And these sets of movement are pegged to a direction in which a robot will move. By detecting the pattern of brain activation in a person, we can know the nature of his visualization and from there, manipulate robots accordingly.
In theory, this could help disabled people to regain their movement. Neuroscientist can attach robotics limps and arm onto them and they will move according to the brain activity of the disabled person.