As humans, we tend to take the most powerful supercomputer in the world for granted: it has a roughly 38-petaflop processing capacity and 2.5 petabytes of memory (or 2.5 million gigabytes), yet only runs on a mere 12 watts of energy. And luckily, we all have one: the human brain. Only recently have silicon-based supercomputers caught up to the brain in raw computational power, with China’s 93-petaflop Sunway TaihuLight supercomputer coming online in June of last year.
Brain implants that allow the direct interface between the human brain and machines have been in development for some time now. However, aside from the daunting task of figuring out how to couple solid-state electronics with what amounts to a biological computer, another problem faced by researchers is the body’s reaction to foreign objects: implanted electrodes work just fine when initially inserted, but over time scar tissue builds up over them, hampering their ability to both read and transmit electrical signals between themselves and their targeted neurons. However, researchers at Harvard Medical School have come up with a new method of implantation that may be able to avoid this problem, allowing for long-term use of such implants.
Many of us have been there: we’ve taken up meditation, followed the practice to the letter, but just couldn’t get into the proper state, or didn’t achieve any tangible benefits. It is, however, important to remember that each of us are different, with different minds, and thus may need a different practice to follow.
One of the more positive aspects of the development of brain-machine interfaces — the technology of linking mind and mechanism — is the promise of allowing paralyzed individuals to regain their mobility through controlling machines via their thoughts. While there has been a great deal of progress in this field over the last few years, one program appears to have had an unexpected effect on the subjects involved, where the individuals were able to regain sensation in, and control of, their paralyzed limbs after learning to use the equipment.