Twelve years ago, an accident left Gert-Jan Oskam with paralyzed legs and partially paralyzed arms, after his spinal cord was damaged in his neck. But these days, Oskam is back on his feet and walking, thanks to a device that creates a ‘digital bridge’ between his brain and the nerves below his injury. Signals from implants in his brain are wirelessly transmitted and decoded by a computer in a backpack, which then transmits the signals to a spinal cord implant that tells his legs how to move.
Class discussion: Despite some concerns about artificial intelligence programs, they are being used in advanced medical research like this. Is that OK? Are we entering an age where human brains connected to computers will be able to accomplish wonders? Would you like your mind to be linked to a computer? Why or why not? One of Oskam’s brain implants was removed because of an infection. If you were paralyzed, would risk brain and spinal surgery for a chance to walk again?