Brain-computer interfacing (BCI) is like something out of a sci-fi movie. The idea of hooking up a person’s brain to a computer in order to elevate the individual’s capabilities, to augment them to overcome the limitations of their flesh, is the kind of plot device used by cyberpunk game developers and writers. However, it is rapidly becoming a reality.
Tech superstars are lining up to back BCI projects. When Tesla’s Elon Musk isn’t trying to get out of buying Twitter, he envisions a world where brain implants can empower users to do everything from climbing rocks without fear to seeing radar with superhuman vision, courtesy of his own BCI startup Neuralink.
Initially the startup aspires to give quadriplegic people the power to move a pointer on a screen with their mind. By moving a pointer, paralysed people can type, control machinery and do a whole host of life-enhancing actions.
Tech investor Peter Thiel, who most recently hit the news backing the conservative dating app The Right Stuff, has invested in Neuralink competitor Blackrock Neurotech. The startup has similar grandiose goals as Neuralink. Like Musk, Thiel originally made his fortune as one of the founders behind PayPal.