What you are about to read is not from the pages of a science fiction paperback, but a summary of a fascinating report published in Nature last week. In brief, scientists have developed a new quantum material called nickelate lattice which they believe could permit for direct information transfer from brains to computers.
The scientists from Purdue University and Argonne National Laboratory in the US believe that the material would permit for the translation of the brain’s electromechanical signals into electrical activity that could be interpreted by a computer. What follows from this is the idea that a computing device could – theoretically – be built that would allow for the efficient storage (and potential transfer) of memories. Although it is still very early days, the usages to which such a breakthrough could be applied are almost limitless. At one extreme, if an external computer could analyse a brain’s output, then it might also be able to detect the early onset of neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s.
However, before we get too excited, it is worth remembering not only is the science behind these developments exceptionally nascent, but there are also notable moral and ethical factors to be considered. Nonetheless, we believe that the field of longevity science is one which has significant growth potential. The intersection of nanotechnology, quantum computing, artificial intelligence, molecular diagnostics and epigenetics is driving a rapid increase in investments in the field. Last year, some $800m was invested in longevity start-ups, double the level of 2017 (per Bloomberg). In the words of the late Steve Jobs, “the biggest innovations of the 21stCentury will be at the intersection of biology and technology.”
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