Young Innovators and The Future of Healthcare

Brain InterfaceThis article is about the power of the Internet as a learning and research tool, and the role that young, Internet-savvy innovators are playing as they develop the future of healthcare

Easton LaChappelle

Easton, a 17-year old inventor, spoke recently at TEDxMileHigh about his 3D printing & animatronics project and the future of prosthetic & animatronic limbs. He started this work at age 14 and used the Internet to research and learn about electronics & sensor technologies, programming & modeling software, 3D printing & industrial design, and wireless networking. He’s now living in Houston and working at NASA on robotics projects.

Tan Le

Tan is the CEO of Emotiv Lifesciences, a bioinformatics company that is offering a unique platform for crowd-sourced brain research. Emotiv leverages cloud computing, big data and mobile technology to accelerate brain research globally. She raised money on Kickstarter to fund development of her next generation headset, which is introducing electroencephalography (EEG) for consumer use and enabling projects like Easton’s (above). An earlier article showed how a similar headset was being used for mind control  of small helicopters.  

Mind-machine interface (and my response)

Scientists believe it may be possible in the future for human brains to survive death in robotic bodies. but would we want to? This article from FastCompany explores whether it’s possible to remove a human brain from a body, put it in a tank, and give it a robotic body. The moderator apparently rejected my comment below.

I find it interesting that a group of neuro scientists would come to one set of conclusions about the future of a brain-computer interface based on what they know of biology, and a computer scientist would come to different conclusions. See www.mhealthtalk.com/2013/07/moores-law-and-the-future-of-healthcare/.

My computer science perspective causes me to ask, “Why would you keep the brain at all if a $1000 computer could be more powerful by 2023, and possibly even more powerful than the human race by 2049?” Ten years after that it could be a $0.01 embedded computer that has that power, eventually networked with other systems in a massive grid like individual neurons, but where each “neuron” has the power of the human race. The wealthy, of course, would get this technology before the less fortunate, so that brings huge implications for society and public policy. 

Not to ignore the wonder of the human body, my point is that biology evolves slowly over centuries while information science evolves exponentially with Moore’s Law and is only limited by our imagination.

One thought on “Young Innovators and The Future of Healthcare

  1. Do you remember those Sci-Fi movies that were able to wipe out or change memories or implant new ones? Well now neuroscientists have made mice “remember” things that didn’t actually happen. (http://www.technologyreview.com/news/517226/scientists-make-mice-remember-things-that-didnt-happen/)

    Just think of possible future implications. What might this mean for eye witness accounts of events in a murder trial? Could that memory be erased? Could memory of educational material be “programmed” into our neurons? What about the ability to speak a foreign language or play a musical instrument? How long might it take to get to these scenarios? 10 years? 20? And how would this concept affect the mind-machine questions I raised above, which relied on exponential extrapolation of Moore’s Law? ‘Heady stuff.

    RELATED ARTICLES:

    Easton’s mind-controlled and 3-D printed prosthetics show significant progress in reducing cost (Popular Science article shows progress in the important area of touch)
    The Cyborg in Us All (NY Times)
    Mind control of helicopters now. What might be next?
    First Human Brain-To-Brain Interface Lets Scientist Control Colleague’s Body (VIDEO)

    MY COMMENT:Just as memories of the Brazilian lab rat were recorded and then transmitted to a rat at Duke, imagine the day when you can “plug in” to learn a new language or how to play an instrument or other applications of mind-machine and mind-mind interfaces. When will that occur? And will these capabilities be used for good or evil?

    Imagine the implications of a $1,000 computer that becomes as powerful as the human brain (Ray Kurzweil projects that by 2037) or as powerful as the human race (2049) and how eventually that’s a $0.01 embedded processor that’s connected to trillions of similar processors in an Internet of Things, or dozens or thousands of cell-sized processors living in, and powered by, our bodies.

    What will become of humans? After all, the biology of humans and other living organisms have evolved slowly – over many centuries – while tech innovation has evolved exponentially, following Moore’s Law. ‘Heady stuff (pun intended).

    7 Cool Uses of 3D Printing in Medicine
    Derby the dog: Running on 3D Printed Prosthetics – YouTube
    Teen Builds $350 Robotic Prosthetic Arm Using Nintendo Power Glove, Gives Blueprints Away
    The Evolution of Brain-Computer Interfaces – Imagine a world where machines can be controlled by thought alone. (INFOGRAPHIC)

Comments are closed.