Normally on Fridays I go over some kind of technology, theme, or shift that we’ll just have to get used to. Prosthetics and brain-machine interfaces are part of a general trend towards extending our physical capacities.

RobotOf course, BrainGate’s work primarily focuses on amelioration. Folks who are paralyzed are able to use these technologies in order to recuperate some kind of physical motion and movement in the world they once interacted with. But going beyond “normal” is exactly what these technologies will enable humanity to do, and exoskeleton technology is already leaning in that direction (IE: HULC military application from Lockheed).

There’s a lot of differences between brain-machine interface and exoskeletons / prosthetics. Here’s an obvious one: It’s generally harder to wire a machine to a human brain than it is to build an exoskeleton. Being as we don’t understand the brain that well, “hooking up” machinery is risky business, and the immediate applications of robotics augmenting regular movement sure seem easier in the short run than having brain signals initiate movement (though we’re already making progress there).

There’s also a lot of similarities between brain-machine interface and exoskeletons / prosthetics. Here’s an obvious one: They both STARTED as ameliorative technologies. Fixing detriments, not enhancing what we already as our given human faculties. As soon as applications exist to take things in the enhancement direction, they will be developed. If not in America, then somewhere else. What is BrainGate moving us toward?

Potentially a lot more than the retaining of normalcy.


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