The telepathic cyborg lives, sort of. University of Washington scientists Rajesh Rao and Andrea Stocco claim that they are the first to demonstrate human brain-to-brain communication. Rao sent a signal into a Stocco's brain via the Internet that caused him to move his right hand. Brain-to-brain communication has previously been demonstrated between rats and from humans to rats.
"The experiment is a proof in concept. We have tech to reverse engineer the brain signal and transmit it from one brain to another via computer," said Chantel Prat, an assistant professor of psychology who worked on the project.
In a press release, the experiment was described as follows:The team had a Skype connection set up so the two labs could coordinate, though neither Rao nor Stocco could see the Skype screens. Rao looked at a computer screen and played a simple video game with his mind. When he was supposed to fire a cannon at a target, he imagined moving his right hand (being careful not to actually move his hand), causing a cursor to hit the "fire" button. Almost instantaneously, Stocco, who wore noise-canceling earbuds and wasn't looking at a computer screen, involuntarily moved his right index finger to push the space bar on the keyboard in front of him, as if firing the cannon. Stocco compared the feeling of his hand moving involuntarily to that of a nervous tic.... "Right now the only way to transfer information from one brain to another is with words," ... [Prat] said. With advances in computer science and neuroscience, people could eventually perform complicated tasks, such as flying an airplane, and dancing the tango, by transferring information in a noninvasive way from one brain to another. "You can imagine all complex motor skills, which are difficult to verbalize, are just chains of procedures," Prat said.
More complex cognitive skills, such as understanding algebra and physics could also benefit from the technology. "Ultimately, it's important education and training, especially when knowledge cannot be easily translatable into words." she said.
Prat noted that some people might be nervous about this technology being used to control minds against their will. "The signal is being transmitted remotely through the Internet, but the humans are connected to physical equipment and must be trained to create the right signals. There is no way to control minds without their willingness," Prat said.
Image Source: University of Washington via cnet.
Video Source: University of Washington via Youtube.