May 2018 CIOReview

Imagine being able to see in the dark or hear a conversation in a noisy restaurant no matter how loud it is or being able to recall everything that a person reads and sees. A few years back, nobody would have imagined these were possible, today, however, the use of technological brain implants like retinal chips, cochlear implants, and memory chips directly wired into a person’s brain’s hippocampus makes these a reality. Though fraught with risk and applicable only to a narrowly defined set of patients today, there is a possible future where these brain implants receive wide applicability. 

Brain implantsFor instance, currently there exist retinal implants that can restore the low level of vision to people blinded by genetic conditions, thereby enhancing their vision. Once the capability of these implants is further improved, it can be used to restore complete vision and also enable night vision. At present, neuroprosthetic sensors are being used to help paralysed patients control a robotic arm with their minds. Eventually, these sensors may be enhanced to read a user’s desires or perform actions like web-search and then send the results directly back to the brain.

Researchers and scientists are also trying to create a brain implant for memory-related problems that directly delivers pulses of electricity and can be recharged without having to be removed. Brain implant technology also has the ability to help treat and even cure mental illnesses such as depression, PTSD, and anxiety, without the aid of pharmaceuticals which may cause side-effects.

This will challenge society in new ways and open up new possibilities that people can scarcely imagine.

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