A new study has demonstrated that people who have brain implants (the research used epileptics who already have implants to control their ailment) can have their memory improved using electrical impulses controlled by AI.
Brain implants to help the disabled
Brain implants have for years now been used to assist those with neurological disease to control their environment, for example the groundbreaking Braingate project shown in the video below.
Epileptics and quadriplegics are among those who have a sufficient reason to submit to the invasiveness – and risk – of getting a brain implant.
When will healthy people start getting brain implants?
This week’s study considerably extends the scope of the potential of brain implants. There are few not-so-young people people who would turn down a boost to their memory powers.
The question is at what point will fully healthy people choose to get a brain implant?
The simple answer is when it is shown to have sufficient utility, in improving quality of life, or more likely work performance.
The early adopters
There are always some number of early adopters, and as soon as commercial brain implants for healthy people are available (and with demonstrated sufficient value) some proportion of geeks in Silicon Valley and beyond will be quick to sign up.
Far more will wait until they have been shown to have no or limited adverse effects for the early adopters.
An analogue is laser eye surgery. The first to get it when it was first introduced to consumers in the US in 1992 were undoubtedly braver than most. But it did not take too long to become completely commonplace after people became comfortable with the idea.
When you start to need an implant
It is probably fair to say that most people will balk at the idea of getting a brain implant.
However it is likely that in time those who have implants will have a significant advantage over those who don’t. Their work performance will be better, they are likely to have some degree of mood control, and they will be better employees.
It is not inevitable, but there is a good chance that sometime in coming decades some people will feel they need brain implants rather than want them.
Those who say no
Clearly there will be a reasonable proportion of people who will draw the line and refuse to ever get implants, for religious or humanistic reasons.
If brain implants are able to improve human performance sufficiently, this will have essentially forked the human species into those who choose to augment themselves and those who don’t. Alongside this may be an increasing divide in opportunity and wealth.
When will you choose to get an implant?
This is the very high-level outline of the adoption of brain implants.
So where do you sit on the adoption curve?
An early adopter?
Adopter after there is sufficient evidence it provides a net benefit?
Or a never-implanter?