Key idea: From tools that enhance our self-understanding, to brain-computer interfaces that tackle disease and disability, all the way to sci-fi-sounding capabilities for whole brain emulations — neurotech is undergoing a blossoming spring, accelerated by AI advances.
Original author and publication date: Allison Duettmann (Freethink) – April 1, 2023
Futurizonte Editor’s Note: It is highly doubtful, as the article proposes, that the long-term applications of new technologies will be beneficial.
From the article:
Better Tools = Better Understanding
The human brain is one of the most complex things that we know exists in the universe, and we are still in the very early-stages of understanding it. Crucially, unlike many things scientists study, we can’t just “take it apart” — not only because it’s usually “in use” but also because much of the architecture that leads to its functionality is incredibly small, intricate, and delicate.
Fortunately, neuroscientists like Ed Boyden from MIT are working on better tools to help our understanding. Ed wondered what if, rather than painstakingly magnifying tiny structures in the brain with a microscope, we could instead enlarge them to make them easier to study?
It turns out that, similar to how polymers make diapers swell, it is possible to enlarge relevant brain samples using hydrogels. This “expansion microscopy” is a brand new tool for blowing up and imaging samples of complex biological structures such as organs and tissues.
Equipped with such techniques, we now have a better shot at tracking down the complex molecular changes in the brain that lead to disorders like epilepsy and Alzheimer’s.
By mimicking the human brain’s structure and function, it may be possible to create more trustworthy AI systems.