Mind Control for the Masses—No Implant Needed
A wave of startups wants to make brain-computer interfaces accessible without needing surgery. Just strap on the device and think.
When Sid Kouider showed up at Slush, the annual startup showcase in Helsinki, wearing an ascot cap and a device he claimed would usher in a new era of technological mind control, no one thought he was crazy. No, he was merely joining the long line of entrepreneurs (see: Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg) who believe that we will one day manage our machines with our thoughts.
The quest to meld mind and machine dates back to at least the 1970s, when scientists began, in earnest, to drill into peoples’ skulls and implant the first brain-computer interfaces—electrodes that translate brain cell activity into data. Today, BCIs can regulate tremors from Parkinson’s disease and restore some basic movement in people with paralysis. But they are still surgically implanted, and still quite experimental. Even so, the likes of Musk already envision a future where we’ll all have chips in our brains, and they’ll replace our need for keyboards, mice, touchscreens, joysticks, steering wheels, and more.