Single brain-machine interfaces are already an incredible technology, and we’ve seen them at work with robotics and even flying quadrotors. But scientists at Duke University Medical Center recently upped the ante by completing an experiment involving multiple brains controlling a single machine at once – or, in this case, a virtual robotic arm.
The test subjects in this experiment happened to be three wise monkeys, whose brains were each connected to a computer via electrodes (the monkey’s brains weren’t connected to each other, just to be clear). This allowed the three monkeys to “combine” their brains and work in what the scientists call a “brainet” to control the virtual robotic arm and reach a target.
In subsequent experiments, the three monkeys each controlled only a single dimension of movement, and they succeeded at this, as well.
What could this mean for humans? Are we heading toward a Pacific Rim-esque future of mind-melding giant robot control? A networked hive mind, perhaps? Maybe not, but scientists say these techniques, when applied to humans, could be used to share thoughts or even “do away with language” altogether.