IEET > Rights > HealthLongevity > CognitiveLiberty > Vision > Contributors > Dick Pelletier > Futurism > Innovation > Implants > Disability > Enablement
My Brain, Life, Future
Dick Pelletier   Jun 21, 2013   Ethical Technology  

My brain contains up to 100 billion neurons, each connecting to other nerve cells through thousands of synapses. These interactions process signals coming into the nervous system, and then produce output responses that stimulate my body’s biological functions, everything from thinking to walking to kissing.

   I compare this to a massively parallel information processing system, a computer. However, if that computer should break down, I would lose my life and all my memories. Today, my mind is too fragile.

   So forward-thinking scientists have come up with a solution: to enhance the signal processing capabilities of individual neurons by reinforcing them with carbon nanotubes; to engineer carbon nanotube scaffolds as electrical bypass circuitry, not only for faulty neural networks, but potentially to enhance the performance of healthy cells – to provide “superhuman” cognitive functions.

   Granted, there are many hurdles to overcome before this dream can become reality. First, researchers must unravel the mysteries of human consciousness, which many experts define as tracking the quintillions of interactions between neurons that give rise to human thoughts and actions. This will require faster computing methods, which could be available by early 2020s.

   Second, molecular nanotech must be developed to the point where neuron replacement and modification technology can happen. Eventually, positive futurists believe that carbon nanotube-based circuitry will enable brain-machine interfaces to create neuroprosthetics that process sight, sound, smell and motion. Such circuits could for instance, veto epileptic attacks before they occur, perform spinal bypasses around injuries, and repair or enhance cognitive functions.

   Though many challenges remain before this dream can become reality, the potential is incredible: healing brain diseases, supercharging the intellect of healthy brains and eventually building a human-machine interface that could download super-computer computational abilities into our human brains.

   Most experts consider the human brain the most complex system in the Universe, however, I believe this organ will one day be clearly understood and play a major role in guiding us into what promises to become an incredible future.

Dick Pelletier was a weekly columnist who wrote about future science and technologies for numerous publications. He passed away on July 22, 2014.



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