The ability to port data in and out of consciousness has been demonstrated in multiple capacities with multiple interfaces ranging from low-fidelity non-invasive to high-fidelity radically invasive. Although these technologies seem like science fiction, they are being vigorously explored by academic, medical, and commercial interests, with companies like BrainGate seeking patents on multiple neural interfaces and software platforms simultaneously. While the primary purpose of neural interface research is putatively therapeutic, the functional potentials and ethical concerns of neural porting are problems looming in the future. Right now these are hypothetical concerns, but if a single-access embedded neurode procedure could be perfected and automated and performed at a local clinic in two hours for around a thousand dollars, and it was covered by insurance, the temptation for cosmetic and personal use of such a procedure becomes clear. Neural interfaces can be abused, obviously, and can be hacked into to enslave and torture minds, or drive people intentionally insane, or turn them into sleeper assassins or mindless consumers. Security is an inherent problem of any extensible exo-cortical system that must be addressed early in the engineering and testing stages, or anyone with an exo-cortical input would be ripe for exploitation. Sensory discrimination is an ongoing problem in any media environment, so individual channel selection, manual override, and the ability to shut down device input should be an integral part of any embedded system.
more from James Kent at h+ Magazine here.