Artificial intelligence has already proved to be immensely beneficial for human species. But this recent discovery of merging human brains with AI can be groundbreaking in managing neurological disorders in humans. Does it sound like Elon Musk’s brain-machine interface company — Neuralink? But it’s not.
Researchers from the University of Delaware have announced the development of new biosynthetic material, aka ‘cyborg-like’ technology, to integrate electronic devices with human brains safely. The technology has been designed to monitor health in humans along with tracking signs of tumours as well as neurological disorders.
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However, surprisingly, integrating such electronic devices has always been a challenge for researchers, as the scars on the operated area can interrupt the flow of the data. Thus, according to researchers, the newly discovered bio-synthetic material, with polymer coating will not only fit those electronic implants into the muscle but will also avoid scarring the tissue.
Presenting the findings at the American Chemical Society Fall 2020 Virtual Meeting & Expo, the researchers explained how traditional materials like gold, steel as well as iridium could cause scarring of the tissue. And therefore, the researchers found a polymer — poly(3,4-ethylene dioxythiophene) or PEDOT, which is a stable component to improve the performance of these medical implants.
Also Read: Is Elon Musk Capable Of Building Cyborgs?
The Biosynthetic Polymer Can Bridge The Human-AI Gap
Led by author and professor of the University of Delaware, David Martin, the study of coating the implants with polymer has been aimed towards merging humans with AI — something Musk has always been interested in. The researchers discovered the idea for this project while trying to integrate “rigid organic microelectrodes” with the human brain, made out of “organic, salty, live materials,” said Martin.
When asked, Professor Martin stated to the media that traditional biocompatible materials come with limitations in terms of “reliability and performance.” However, the new material will bridge the gap between the hard electronic implant and the soft human tissues. Post testing researchers have highlighted that the discovered polymer has unique properties that can aid in linking computerised devices with human tissues.
With Musk making claims with its mysterious Neuralink’s technology, such an advancement in the process of implanting electronic devices can not only boost up the idea but will also aid in creating more cyborg-beings. Also, with Musk’s Neuralink focusing on curing hearing disability as well as epilepsy, this polymer with advanced versatility capabilities can have potential in detecting early stages of such disease.
It has also been reported that combining the PEDOT with dopamine will also help in monitoring addictive behaviours in patients. This is again something that Neuralink’s technological advancement has been claiming to cure.
Beyond diagnostic use, the researchers are also working on linking antibodies, DNA and molecules to the polymer to create something new which can carry out advanced biological tasks, like streaming music directly to human brains. This also has the possibility of entirely incorporating AI into human brains creating “Terminator-like cyborgs,” believes professor Martin.
Alongside, Musk has also been a firm believer of controlled AI, which can be monitored continuously for avoiding any potential risks. The PEDOT polymer can be leveraged to identify and treat brain or nervous system disorders in a controlled environment. “The ability to carry out the polymerisation in a controlled way inside humans could be fascinating,” stated Professor Martin to the media.
As a matter of fact, Neuralink has already revealed their technology test on monkeys and mice with 87% success rate and experts believe, with this new polymerisation, the startup can customise the material to integrate into human tissues. Not only this specialised polymer can help in detecting mental disorders in humans but will also allow brains to communicate with computers in real-time.
According to the researchers, the team has been working on such functionality since the last two decades, and believe that an advanced feature like this can significantly improve human-computer communication.
Besides, it has been highlighted that the low impedance of the polymer, when used on the electronic devices can increase not only the signal strength of data flow but also enhances the battery life of the implants. Currently, it might seem obscure, but, as Professor Martin believes that “someday these polymers might be used in merging AI with the human brain.”