39. Direct Neural Interface & DARPA
DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency)
DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) is the independent research branch of the U.S. Department of Defense that funded a project that in time was to lead to the creation of the Internet. Originally called ARPA (the "D" was added to its name later), DARPA came into being in 1958 as a reaction to the success of Sputnik, Russia's first manned satellite. DARPA's explicit mission was (and still is) to think independently of the rest of the military and to respond quickly and innovatively to national defense challenges.
In the late 1960s, ARPA provided funds and oversight for a project aimed at interconnecting computers at four university research sites. By 1972, this initial network, now called the ARPANET, had grown to 37 computers. Because ARPA's name was changed to Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in 1971, some people refer to ARPANET as DARPANET. (DARPA was changed back to ARPA in 1993 and back to DARPA again in 1996.)
The future of mind-controlled machines might not be as far away as we think. As director of DARPA’s Biological Technologies Office, Dr Justin Sanchez is part of a team that is looking at how to decode brain signals and use them to control robotic prosthetics. His research includes the visualisation and decoding of brain activity, the development of devices that could help patients with memory deficits, and advanced prosthetic arm systems that could restore feeling and movement after an injury.
The former associate professor of Biomedical Engineering and Neuroscience at the University of Miami has also looked at the potential of neurotechnology for treating paralysis, Tourette’s Syndrome and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. In this talk Dr Justin Sanchez takes us through various real world applications of direct neural interfaces.