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According to reports, The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is currently developing computers that can be inserted into brains, in order to restore people’s senses. So far, the agency poured $65 million of funding into the Neural Engineering System Design (NESD) program, which aims to build an implantable “neural interface”.
DARPA, which is the research arm of the US military, says the computers will be used to restore impaired or lost senses, including sight, hearing and speech.
The plan is for the embedded computers, which will be “no larger than one cubic centimeter in size, roughly the volume of two nickels stacked back to back”, to translate the electrochemical language used by neurons in the brain into “the ones and zeros that constitute the language of information technology”, says DARPA. This means brains would be able to communicate directly with machines, and vice versa.
Dr Elizabeth Strychalski, a program manager in DARPA’s biological technologies office, says these sensory restoration examples are “among the program’s potential applications”, suggesting the organization is exploring alternative avenues for the technology too, such as military uses.
“The NESD program looks ahead to a future in which advanced neural devices offer improved fidelity, resolution, and precision sensory interface for therapeutic applications,” told Phillip Alvelda, the founding NESD program manager, to independent.co.uk.
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