“Brain implants today are where laser eye surgery was several decades ago,” write Gary Marcus, an NYU professor of psychology, and Christof Koch, chief scientific officer of the Allen Institute for Brain Science in Seattle, in a recent essay for The Wall Street Journal.
Brain implants, also called neuroprosthetics, are used to restore hearing and vision loss, but as our technology and brain knowledge improve, the applications will become almost infinite.
What Brain Implants Already Do. The most commonly used brain implant now is a cochlear implant that helps restore hearing. Already, the military is experimenting with brain implants that will help soldiers improve memories damaged by traumatic injuries. The Human Brain Connectome project hopes to get a grasp on how the brain’s neurons are connected, helping us understand thoughts and memories on the cellular level.
There are several projects underway in the U.S. and Europe to develop a better fundamental understanding of the brain, including the Human Connectome Project, the aforementioned BRAIN Initiative, and the Human Brain Project.
According to a recent survey, 72% of the U.S. population is not interested in a brain implant that could improve memory or mental capacity, and 53% of people think it’ll be a change for the worse if most people wear implants that provide them with information about the surrounding world.