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Negroponte and neural dust

| June 23, 2014 | 0 Comments

Nicholas Negroponte is no stranger to controversy. In 2005, the founder of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s MediaLab started One Laptop per Child (OLPC), which works with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to deliver low-cost laptops to children in developing nations. In early 2014, Negroponte – often dubbed ‘Negropodamus’ – caused a stir at a TED conference (TED is an online platform for sharing ideas) when he put forward his latest techno predictions.

“In 30 years,” said Negroponte to the TED audience, “We’re going to be able to literally ingest information. Once information is in your bloodstream, some kind of mechanism could deposit the information in the brain. You could take a pill and learn English or study the works of Shakespeare.” The words of a visionary or a lunatic? Cochlear and retinal implants and implants to ‘drive’ prosthetic limbs are already old news. Now, at the University of California, Berkeley, scientists are working on microsensors called ‘neural dust’ that, once implanted into the brain, will enhance the speed at which we acquire new information.

The microsensors are a form of brain-computer interface. The trick to further advancement, say scientists, is to implant technology without causing harm to the brain. At the Pentagon, scientists are working on brain implants that will improve the way we wage war, providing soldiers with hypernormal focus, perfect memory and a ‘no sleep necessary’ feature. Says Negroponte, before the end of 21st century, keyboards and touchscreens will be antiques. Gary Marcus, professor of psychology at New York University, agrees. “By the end of the century, many of us will be wired directly into the cloud, from brain to toe.” 

Category: e-Education, Winter 2014

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