Brain Coprocessor Platform Needed

Given the advances in hardware that stimulates or monitors the brain, do we need a brain coprocessor platform that creates a standard architecture? Take a look at just a few examples of what is currently under development:


(Read/Write Brain Electrode prototype)

MIT's Technology Review makes a good case for this idea:

Given the ever-increasing number of brain readout and control technologies available, a generalized brain coprocessor architecture could be enabled by defining common interfaces governing how component technologies talk to one another, as well as an "operating system" that defines how the overall system works as a unified whole--analogous to the way personal computers govern the interaction of their component hard drives, memories, processors, and displays.

Such a brain coprocessor platform could facilitate innovation by enabling neuroengineers to focus on neural prosthetics at an algorithmic level, much as a computer programmer can work on a computer at a conceptual level without having to plan the fate of every individual bit. In addition, if new technologies come along, e.g., a new kind of neural recording technology, they could be incorporated into a system, and in principle rapidly coupled to existing computation and perturbation methods, without requiring the heavy readaptation of those other components.

Another reason for a standardized platform is to work on the problem of medical device hacking; see Implantable Device Security for more information.

SF enthusiasts recall the brain implants that William Gibson called microsofts in his 1984 novel Neuromancer:

The clientele were young, few of them out of their teens. They all seemed to have carbon sockets planted behind the left ear, but she didn't focus on them...

Behind [one] counter a boy with a shaven head stared vacantly into space, a dozen spikes of microsoft protruding from the socket behind his ear...

Be sure to read the thoughtful article at MIT's Technology Review.

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