by Brandon Turbeville
February 11, 2012
Only a few days ago, I wrote an article entitled “Merging
Man and Machine - Singularity vs. Humanity,” where I
discussed the growing
Singularity movement and its implications for
humanity as we know it.
At the center of this article was the announcement by researchers at
the University of California that scientists are now able to
translate human speech into computer-generated signals which are
then fed back to human brains as human speech.
While this may seem like groundbreaking news to some, the University
of California is by no means the only institution working on such
technology. Nor is it the only institution experiencing success in
In an article published in the Daily Mail entitled, “The
cyborgs are coming! Living brains implanted with electronic chips to
replace ‘faulty’ parts,” Rob Waugh discusses
successful developments made by researchers at Tel Aviv University
in regards to their ability to create and install computer circuits
into brains that can replace and control motor functions.
Under the guise of developing technology that could possibly aid
individuals suffering from Parkinson’s disease, Tel Aviv researchers
have essentially created circuitry that can replace basic motor
functions such as blinking, and have
implanted these circuits into
The circuits are tied together in such a way that they act as what
Waugh describes as a “robotic cerebellum;” the area of the brain
responsible for the coordination of movement.
After being wired to
the brain, the robotic cerebellum,
“receives, interprets, and transmits
sensory information from the brain stem, facilitating
communication between the brain and body.”
As is the case in much of the
tech-related developments I have had the
opportunity to research,
the robotic cerebellum is not something that will be coming in the
It is already here.
Indeed, Professor Matti Mintz and other Tel Aviv researchers
have already successfully
implanted a robotic cerebellum into a
brain-damaged rat, “restoring its capacity for movement” and
teaching it to blink whenever a particular tone was sounded.
The rat was only able to perform the action when the robotic
cerebellum was functioning; demonstrating that the robotic
cerebellum was in fact successful in translating sensory information
to the brain in a fashion that directly mimics the natural neural
Mintz, who recently presented his research findings at the
Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence meeting in
“It’s proof of the concept that we
can record information from the brain, analyze it in a way
similar to the biological network, and then return it to the
This research dovetails with that which
Ian Morris discussed in his own article for the Daily Mail
would have loved The Singularity - Mind-blowing benefits of merging
human brains and computers.”
In this article, Morris discusses
experiments recently conducted at the University of California where
researchers scanned the electrical activity of the human brain while
volunteers were listening to human speech, fed the information into
a computer, and translated the activity back into human language.
Last September, they asked
volunteers to watch Hollywood film trailers and then
reconstructed the clips by scanning their subjects’ brain
Last week, the scientists boldly went further still. They
charted the electrical activity in the brains of volunteers who
were listening to human speech and then they fed the results
into computers which translated the signals back into language.
The technique remains crude, and has so far made out only five
distinct words, but humanity has crossed a threshold.
another related experiment that was
also conducted at the University of California, as well as at Wake
Forest University, a brain implant was again tested on rats with
findings that revealed the implants could actually restore lost
The implantable device is able to mimic the neural signals of the
brain, as well as transmit replicas of these signals to the
hippocampus, the area of the brain associated with turning
short-term memories into long-term memories.
With these capabilities, the devices are thus able to trace the
neural signals as they occur, then restore the memory after the
original memory has been lost. If the device is used with a
hippocampus that is functioning normally, it can even be used to
enhance memory, not only restore it.
In this particular study, researchers trained rats to press one
lever after another to receive water.
The tests were conducted by
allowing the rats to press one lever and then distracting them so
they would have to remember which lever they had already pressed in
order to press the correct lever and receive their “reward.”
The researchers then attached electrodes to the rats’ brains and
connected them to the CA1 and CA3 areas of
the hippocampus. They
recorded the signals between these regions of the brain as the rats
performed their trained tasks. The researchers then drugged the rats
to the point that the two regions (CA1 and CA3) could not
communicate. Thus, the rats forgot which lever to press next.
As Theodore Berger, a biomedical engineering professor at USC
and lead author of this study, stated,
“The rats still showed that they
knew ‘when you press left first, then press right next time, and
vice-versa.’ And they still knew in general to press levers for
water, but they could only remember whether they had pressed
left or right for 5-10 seconds.”
After the research team implanted the
artificial (robotic) hippocampus, they turned on the device which
replayed a previously recorded signal from CA1. The rats then
remembered which levers to pull and in the correct order.
As Berger stated in more simplistic terms,
“Flip the switch on, and the rats
remember. Flip it off, and the rats forget.”
The researchers have stated that they
are moving forward in testing the device in monkeys next.
the authors of the study have
also stated that,
“the system could easily be fitted
for human use.”
Obviously, this technology is far ahead
of the much-hyped “amnesia pill” that has been discussed for some
Yet, even a pill that is capable of
erasing certain memories was derided as a conspiracy theory for as
long as it has been discussed. However, now there can be no derision
of the technology and experiments addressed above. Not only are they
here - they have been successful.
In addition, we know that any technology introduced to the general
public is already quite obsolete. The military-industrial complex
and the high sciences are light years ahead of anything the mass
population is even faintly aware of.
The fact that such advancements in the area of mind/brain control
are now being introduced to the general public should be concerning
to the say the least. While these types of developments undoubtedly
hold some benefit to individuals suffering from neurodegenerative
diseases or paralysis, the fact is that the agenda behind their
development and introduction are not geared to these ends.
Machine-brain interfacing is almost solely geared toward the aims of
warfare and control, with positive developments such as ending
paralysis and motor impairments only being used as a marketing
method for their introduction and acceptance.
The Singularity movement itself holds no
improvements in the quality of life of mankind, only the possibility
(and indeed probability) of a vastly increased level of centralized
control over every human being.
Keep in mind, the funding for research in this particular area of
science tends to come from military and secretive agencies like
DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency).
These agencies are not in existence due
to their contributions to humanitarian efforts. They exist due to
their contributions toward “improving” the ability of the State
wage war more effectively.
In an age where the citizens of the supposedly free world are
considered the enemy by their own governments, developments such as
Singularity and brain/machine interfaces should be viewed with a
heavy dose of skepticism and resistance.
That is, while our ability to do so