Friday, October 25, 2013

DARPA to Spend $70M on Deep Brain Stimulation

DARPA yes, but are they combat
satellites or brain dust? 
James Gorman in today's NYT reports a plan of the federal Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (known as Darpa) to spend $70 million on deep brain stimulation research and technology. Although DBS is already deployed as a treatment for Parkinson's disease, it also has promise for the treatment of epilepsy (often a consequence of traumatic brain injuries experienced by soldiers), depression, and other common neurological and psychiatric maladies suffered by soldiers and vets. From the initial report, it looks like research will focus on reading signals from the brain more than sending stimulation in, though. Gorman quotes Darpa program manager Justin Sanchez saying they are looking for technology that can “tell them precisely what is going on with the brain.” Gorman goes on: "The next step is to create a device that can monitor the signs of illness or injury in real time, treat them appropriately, and measure the effects of the treatment."

That would be great. But beware, by the time you could monitor and treat mental illness through implanted wireless electrodes you could monitor and influence all kinds of other "mental events" as well.

Darpa may have made a mark on history by giving us GPS and the Internet, but with read-write brain-machine interfaces it would bring about more than a technological revolution; more like a human speciation event! Keep your seat belts on...and your skull caps closed.


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