The U.S. military is beginning work on a new “implantable neural interface” that it hopes will allow wearers to transmit data back and forth from their brains to external digital devices.
That’s right—a brain modem. One that can connect to a staggering one million neurons at a time, up from the mere thousands that are possible today.
The implications are profound for the armed forces and civilians. Imagine controlling your tank, car or microwave oven with your mind. Or steering a drone with your thoughts and “seeing” what the drone’s sensors see—in real time. Imagine making a hands-free phone call by simply willing it… then talking out loud.
But don’t hold your breath. While the Pentagon’s brain modem is far from science fiction—cochlear implants, for example, represent a very basic form of one-way neural interface—it’s equally far from science fact. And it could be many years or decades before anything resembling the neural implant is even ready for testing. If ever.
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency—the military’s fringe-science wing—announced the “Neural Engineering System Design” initiative on Jan. 19. The NESD program “aims to develop an implantable neural interface able to provide unprecedented signal resolution and data-transfer bandwidth between the human brain and the digital world,” DARPA stated.