Why scientists are recording and implanting memories

Picture by Dustin Cohen
Date:23 June 2014 Tags:, , , ,

Michio Kaku is a theoretical physicist and the author of The Future of the Mind: The Scientific Quest to Understand, Enhance, and Empower the Mind

Q Why are scientists recording and implanting memories? What is the practical application of that?

“The goal is to create a brain pacemaker that uploads memories into people with Alzheimer’s disease. A pacemaker could provide basic memory skills for people who have fading memories. Beyond that, we could be implanted with all kinds of knowledge.

Unemployed workers could be instantly implanted with new technical skills. Students will be able to learn calculus in an instant. I’m sure parents will want to put memories into their children of bad things to avoid. Further down the line, you might experience vacations you’ve never had or relationships with people you’ve never met. Last year the first memory was implanted into a mouse at MIT. Very soon we’re going to be uploading simple memories into primates, and after that, humans.”

Q How could advances of the mind assist space travel?

“We may have surrogates in the future that we control mentally. If you had a map of all the neural networks of the brain, you could put that disc on a laser beam and shoot it into space. You would be sending pure consciousness. It would hit a relay station, and you could download this information and put it into a surrogate.”

Kaku believes brain-to-brain communication is coming. To create this “brain net”, the brain’s cortices would need to be mapped and nanoprobes inserted into its speech and vision centres. Computers would analyse and decode the nerve signals and then send them over the Internet via fibre-optic cables.

These would be interpreted by a receiver and implanted in another brain. Last year, scientists accomplished a primitive “mind meld”: a scientist wearing an EEG helmet willed another scientist, who wore a trans-cranial magnetic helmet, to move his hand. Someday, researchers may even be able to send non-verbal messages over the Web.

– As told to Alyson Sheppard

Glossary: brain net
Kaku believes brain-to-brain communication is coming. To create this “brain net”, the brain’s cortices would need to be mapped and nanoprobes inserted into its speech and vision centres. Computers would analyse and decode the nerve signals and then send them over the Internet via fibre-optic cables. These would be interpreted by a receiver and implanted in another brain. Last year, scientists accomplished a primitive “mind meld”: a scientist wearing an EEG helmet willed another scientist, who wore a transcranial magnetic helmet, to move his hand. Some day, researchers may even be able to send non-verbal messages over the Web.