The day when science fiction becomes science realism is slowly dawning upon us. If you happen to feel your arm involuntarily moving or your legs smack you into the wall against your will, then you should either call an exorcist or check to see if scientists have hacked your brain.
Okay, the exorcist might be a bit too far, unless you suddenly start reciting Latin while spewing green vomit. But while there was a time that suspecting scientists hacked your brain could have put you in a straight jacket, that suspicion may now carry some weight.
According to BGR, scientists have successfully hacked a mouse's brain, causing their subject to "run, freeze in place, or even completely lose control over their limbs." More from the report:
The effort, led by physics professor Arnd Pralle, PhD, of the University at Buffalo College of Arts and Sciences, focused on a technique called 'magneto-thermal stimulation.' It’s not exactly a simple process — it requires the implantation of specially built DNA strands and nanoparticles which attach to specific neurons — but once the minimally invasive procedure is over, the brain can be remotely controlled via an alternating magnetic field. When those magnetic inputs are applied, the particles heat up, causing the neurons to fire.
The published study can be read in full at the scientific journal eLife. Human trials have yet to take place, and may be years away, but the idea is definitely there. Using mice, the scientists successfully caused them to " freeze, lock up their limbs, turn around, or even run."
What could this mean for humans if this proved successful? A variety of things, from fixing nerve disorders to tweaking moods.
Billionaire Elon Musk has even proposed future technologies that could link human brains with computers in order to keep up with the fast growth of artificial intelligence. "If I were to communicate a concept to you, you would essentially engage in consensual telepathy," Musk said in an interview about potential human-android hybrids back in April.
Essentially, claims Musk, humans have too many physical barriers to compete with the speed of artificial intelligence, so robot accessories may be necessary to help us work better and communicate more effectively with our computers.
"There are a bunch of concepts in your head that then your brain has to try to compress into this incredibly low data rate called speech or typing," Musk said. "If you have two brain interfaces, you could actually do an uncompressed direct conceptual communication with another person."
Welcome to the 21st century.