Neural—digital interfaces: creating bionic humans

Written by Jenny Straiton

Neural—digital interfaces

What are the latest advances in neural—digital interfaces and how could they be used to create the next generation of bionic humans?

Known by a variety of different names, including brain—computer interface or brain—machine interface, a neural—digital interface is a direct connection between a brain and an external electronic device that allow bidirectional movement of information. The connection is formed with a goal of restoring lost motor or sensory function, or of augmenting or enhancing existing human capabilities.

Neural—digital interfaces have been a focus of many large tech companies recently, with social media giant Facebook (CA, USA), the US Government and eccentric billionaire Elon Musk all trying to get in on the action and, according to Musk, “ultimately achieve a sort of symbiosis with artificial intelligence.”

In this technology news feature, the current status of the technology is explored, and examples of its successful application discussed – from artificial electrochemical synapses to the restoration of the sense of touch in paraplegics. In addition, the potential ethical barriers that could block the mainstream integration of such technology are highlighted.