(by Luiz Miguel | The New American) – A company that specializes in implanting neural computer interfaces into the human brain claims that a patient, who suffers from a nervous system disease that prevents his movement, successfully used their technology to publish a social media post just by thinking it.
Philip O’Keefe, a 62-year-old man from Australia, has amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), which causes paralysis. But technology firm Synchron says he can now communicate without the need of any muscle activity.
On Thursday, O’Keefe posted on Twitter “using only direct thought,” according to Synchron.
“I created this tweet just by thinking it,” read a tweet ostensibly authored by O’Keefe that was posted by the account of Synchron CEO Thomas Oxley.
The company asserts the tweet was created wirelessly from the man’s brain. He had a brain computer interface (BCI) called “Stentrode” installed last year. The implant, “designed to enable patients to wirelessly control digital devices through thought,” was inserted via the jugular vein to avoid drilling into the skull.
“Now, I just think about where on the computer I want to click, and I can email, bank, shop, and now message the world via Twitter,” the company cited O’Keefe as saying wirelessly. According to him, the “astonishing” system takes practice, just like learning to ride a bike, “but once you’re rolling, it becomes natural.”
“My hope is that I’m paving the way for people to tweet through thoughts,” was ostensibly O’Keefe’s closing statement.
A press release from Synchron read:
Philip received the endovascular Stentrode brain computer interface in April 2020 following progressive paralysis caused by ALS which left him unable to engage in work-related or other independent activities. Mr. O’Keefe has since been using the technology to reconnect with his family, and business colleagues continuing email exchanges and staying actively involved in his consultancy and other business projects.
“These fun holiday tweets are actually an important moment for the field of implantable brain computer interfaces. They highlight the connection, hope and freedom that BCIs give to people like Phil who have had so much of their functional independence taken away due to debilitating paralysis,” said Thomas Oxley, MD, PhD, CEO, Synchron.
Synchron stated it plans to further develop its brain computer interface in an in-human study in the U.S. next year.
The advances made by Synchron raise questions about the potential future uses of BCI technology. Certainly it can be used to drastically improve the lives of individuals like O’Keefe in an unprecedented way, allowing those with ALS and similar conditions to continue living life.
But, as with nuclear power—which can either be used to power cities or create bombs that destroy cities—is there a potential that this technology, which undoubtedly is being used for good, will ultimately be abused? Read Full Article >