While we’re not fully jumping directly into “the Matrix” just yet, some very bold steps have been made recently with regards to the development of a more permanent brain – computer interface system. While it sounds like part of the back-story of a science fiction novel or movie, the use of newly developed carbon microthreads in brain – computer interfacing systems is being explored. Don’t get the wrong idea however, this concept is largely still in its infancy (*we’re safe from the androids…for now).
* – That was meant as a joke.
How would it work, exactly? Currently, the idea is that these super thin and tiny microthreads could be used to replace conventional electrodes for use in monitoring neurons. The truth is, we can already use certain types of electrodes to accomplish these same tasks, but the problem is that scar tissue tends to develop around them, which obviously endangers the patient/subject and of course, decreases the functionality of the technology itself.
What makes carbon microthreads different however is their incredibly small size. In fact, these microthreads are around 100 times smaller than those electrodes which are currently used, so it’s definitely an improvement. There are basically two hurdles which researchers are currently facing: rejection by the brain during extended use of electrodes and the aforementioned problem related to the size of the electrodes and brain tissue scarring. Because carbon microthreads are so small, scientists are postulating that they might be able to simply cover them in perhaps some type(s) of organic substances, like proteins, which would hopefully prevent the brain from completely rejecting them.
Naturally, this technology (if and when it’s fully developed) would allow for some radical advancement where consumer electronics are concerned. For instance, if a simple, routine and harmless method of implanting carbon microthread-based electrodes were developed, we might see the entire consumer computing market radically shift in a more futuristic direction. Likewise, imagine the effect that such a technology might have on the internet at large.
Even more importantly, there are plenty of medical / biophysical uses for this technology right now. While this is pure speculation at this point, think about all of the people suffering from conditions which bring about paralysis; this type of technology might allow us to not only treat the root causes of these illnesses, but to effectively “wire around them” if no other options are available. Likewise, for those who’ve lost limbs or were perhaps born with certain birth defects, carbon microthread-based electrodes might finally allow them to gain complete mobility and control over artificial limbs. Needless to say, the inherent power and potential of this technology is far reaching, and it might even allow us to finally treat some of the more debilitating neurodegenerative conditions.
For the IT crowd…
Career IT professionals should consider developmental courses designed to teach the concepts of brain-computer interfaces if for no other reason than to stay “ahead of the game”, so to speak. While it seems like it might be extremely far-off into the future, the truth is that this technology is growing by leaps and bounds and we might be seeing bona-fide brain – computer interface systems emerging on the commercial market much sooner than expected.
Of course this means that more and more IT careerists will then begin pushing toward understanding the technology itself, which in turn means that the possible uses of it will also explode. Some of the bigger, more financially sound companies would undoubtedly begin trying to transition part of their workforce toward utilizing the interface technology, which might provide them with a slight edge over the competition. The net effect of that would obviously be that more and more businesses would begin to adopt a similar approach to theirs, which in turn would create increased demand at the IT level.
Yes this is largely speculation, but keep in mind that we’ve never seen such a fantastic type of technology implemented on such a large scale before. The effect of having this type of technology available on such a grand scale will have wide-ranging effects on society, the likes of which we can’t even come close to accurately predicting at this point in time. However, as you are probably well aware, if something incorporates electronics and connects to the internet or a network, there will always be IT professionals who are striving to understand and master the use of it.