Telepathy has come to the laboratory and it promises a mind-boggling future. Like any new scientific breakthrough, the technology that follows can be developed to create miracles and benefit the human race, or weaponized into horrific new forms of death or oppression.
Potential battlefield use of telepathic warriors equipped with advanced bionics and mentally linked to battle robots and death droids raises the specter of a Terminator-type world.
That world may be closer than anyone wants to believe as a confluence of exotic technologies converge into a focal point of kaleidoscopic breakthroughs that enhance human senses, capabilities and even longevity.
A team of intrepid neuroscientists at Duke University used an array of sophisticated microelectrodes implanted in experimental rats' brains—specifically the rodents' primary motor cortex region that governs movement—and trained them to move levers when stimulated by the light of an LED.
One lever opened a small doorway to water, while the other did nothing.
Assigning two different groups of rats as the "encoders" and "decoders," the researchers then recorded the rats neural activity being transmitted by the implanted electrodes. The pattern of activity was noted and then the "encoder" group was shown how to use a lever to reveal food.
Later, when the "decoders" were introduced to the lever, the original group sent the information to the new group, passing on their knowledge of what lever to move to access the food.
The successful experiment confirmed that an interface can be created directly between two brains enabling rats to telepathically share sensory and motor information.
Miguel Nicolelis, a Brazilian neurobiologist and the study's lead researcher told New Scientist that "Many people thought it could never happen." But the experiment succeeded and created a network of rats with superbrains creating, in essence an organic computer interface.
The breakthrough proved that two animals could collaborate by sending electronic signals from one brain to another. Monkey trials are now underway.
The study was published the end of February, 2013 in the journal Scientific Reports.
Brain-machine leap forward
Meanwhile, scientists at Brown University successfully tested the world's first operational long-term brain-computer interface. The interface operates wirelessly through implantations and are also rechargeable. After lengthy testing with monkeys and pigs, tests are being set up for human trials.
Brain-to-brain interface and brain-machine interface can work as synergistic allies to open the doors to applications across a wide range of human and technological endeavors.
The brain-to-brain interfaces and brain-machine interfaces are being closely monitored by military intelligence agencies and private groups such as the Singularitists that see such developments as a way to move towards their goal of creating superminds and virtual immortality.
Along those lines, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has developed a direct brain link to the Internet.
"Government mind control may not be as far-fetched as it sounds: after 15 years of research, scientists have found a way to transmit information from one brain to another, thereby controlling the thoughts of its test subject.
"Scientists have successfully captured the thoughts of a rat in Brazil and electronically transmitted them through the Internet to the brain of a rat in the US. The Brazilian rat had been energetically running around in a lab. When the American rat received the brain waves of its South American counterpart, it immediately began to mimic the behavior—despite the thousands of miles between them, Reuters reports."
Brave new world of bio-interfaces
Yes, these breakthrough can help overcome motor dysfunctions in victims of brain injuries, enable amazingly new advanced forms of communication, and can be applied to a veritable myriad of wondrous technology creating feats once though possible only by the Greek gods.
Yet the darker side exists and that worries bioethicists.
The battle lines are drawn. The question that remains for the future is how much of this potentially life saving, yet dangerous technology, might be drawn into the "dark side of The Force?"