We’ve read about them for years in science fiction. They’ve been testing them for decades. Some people can’t wait to get their hands on them while others are afraid they could be used for malicious purposes. Brain Implants are small devices that stimulate areas of the brain that don’t quite work right on their own. Mostly due to the short lengths of the studies, reports have so far been hazy regarding their overall effectiveness until now. A long-range study being presented at the upcoming American Association of Neurological Surgeons meeting demonstrates how, over a 10-year period, patients aided by brain implants increasingly regained control over their moods and obsessive behaviors.
“The data we are presenting on 43 patients is the result of more than 10 years of work across multiple institutions worldwide. These data represent the largest number and the longest evaluation of patients with psychiatric disorders who have undergone DBS implants, including some with long-term follow up,” said Dr. Rezai, who represented an international working group of physicians studying DBS therapy for treatment resistant OCD and depression.
To me, the scariest possibility with brain implants is security. As the technology proliferates, it’ll only be a matter of time until they become connectivity devices. Once they’re open to a network, the threat of malicious compromise becomes very real. How long does a device need to be connected to the internet before someone learns how to break in and use it for their own nefarious purposes? I could imagine some form of hierarchy of low-level to high-level where some implants are allowed connectivity with the outside and each other whereas others are hard-wired and dedicated to one task. Then we have the Black Market or the use of implants as drug relaying devices.
Regardless of the social implications, it’s still cool to know the technology is picking up and looking good.