Recently, researchers from the University of Washington announced that they may have figured out how to use the internet for mind control, and I don’t mean metaphorically. Rajesh Rao and Andrea Stocco believe that they may have demonstrated the first case of human brain-to-brain interface or so screams the Science Daily headline from August 27th. In the experiment, Rao got busy playing a computer game but not physically. Instead, he imagined hitting the space bar which would fire the cannons in the game, while electrodes captured the brain waves he emitted while doing this. Meanwhile, Stocco sat with a transcranial magnetic stimulation device strapped to his head, stimulating his left motor cortex, which in turn stimulated the movement of his hand poised over the space bar in a different lab. A computer program was designed to translate Rao’s imagined hand movements into a code that could effectively send a command to Stocco’s hand, utilizing the internet to send the signal. And apparently this set-up worked.
This isn’t the first time that researchers have explored what’s known as brain-computer interfacing (BCI). For years, researchers have looked to this infant technology to find ways to allow those incapable of communicating a voice, and those who have been paralyzed, the freedom to move on their own. Ever since Hans Berger recorded the first human brain waves in 1924, science has been looking for a way to harness the electrical signals that run our brains.
Despite the promise of Rao and Stucco’s research, we still have a long way to go. More trials must be run and their results need to be independently verified. It’s also important to recognize as the Science Daily story reports, that what Rao and Stucco did was a simple one-way communication; we’re nowhere near a Vulcan mind-meld, not for quite some time, at least. Many researchers also believe that more advanced nanotechnology will be needed before we can take full advantage of what BCI has the potential to offer. Until then, we’ll have just have use our imaginations to see where internet-mediated mind control, or just plain old mind control, could take us.
Carry on, Charles.
And check out these PDF’s for a nice introduction to BCI: