\- [Bryan] We are about to enter into the most consequential revolution in the history of the human race. Where we can take control of our cognitive evolution.

 

 

 

- [Sara] We're talking about technologies that could radically alter the way we are as human beings.

 

 

 

- [Miguel] What we're seeing is that technology's becoming part of us. Because we're linking biological brains directly to machines.

 

 

 

- [Nita] What if we could expand your capabilities beyond what we as humans have never had before?

 

 

 

- [Ramez] There are a set of people who are going to say, This is unnatural, this is inhuman, we shouldn't allow this to happen.

 

 

 

- [Man] The fact is, is that, we are transforming into a new species, a technological species.

 

 

 

- [Bryan] You don't know what the outcome is going to be. You don't know how it will be used.

 

 

 

- [Nita] But if we start tinkering with the brain, if we start changing it... Are we about to fundamentally change what it means to be human? And if so, are we okay with that?

 

 

 

- Wake up.

 

 

 

- Wake up.

 

 

 

- Drapes.

 

 

 

- Drapes.

 

 

 

- One.

 

 

 

- One.

 

 

 

- Open.

 

 

 

- Open.

 

 

 

- [Bill] I was riding a bicycle in a charity event. It was raining really badly, and I was following a mail truck. And then all of a sudden it stopped and I didn't. Drapes

 

 

 

- Drapes.

 

 

 

- Two.

 

 

 

- Two.

 

 

 

- Open.

 

 

 

- Open.

 

 

 

- Head up.

 

 

 

- Head up.

 

 

 

- Do it.

 

 

 

- Head up.

 

 

 

- Do it.

 

 

 

- Head up.

 

 

 

- [Bill] Things are different now.

 

 

 

- [Danielle] Good morning Mr. Kochevar.

 

 

 

- [Bill] Hi, Danielle.

 

 

 

- [Danielle] I'm gonna go ahead and get you up in the chair, okay?

 

 

 

- I'm a tetraplegic, which means I can't move my arms or legs and I only have feeling from my mid-chest up. It's okay that I can't feel anything but sometimes I wish I could. After my injury I lived with my parents then when my mother and father both passed away, I moved here.

 

 

 

- Good morning Mr. Kochevar.

 

 

 

- [Bill] Morning Yvonne.

 

 

 

- [Yvonne] Well hello.

 

 

 

- [Bill] How are you this morning?

 

 

 

- [Yvonne] I am just lovely, Bill.

 

 

 

- In people that have paralysis, the nerves to their muscles are still intact, but they're cut off from the brain.

 

 

 

- [Yvonne] Let's get you up on your side.

 

 

 

- [Robert] So they lose the ability to voluntarily control their movements.

 

 

 

- [Yvonne] Got your glasses here.

 

 

 

- If we can understand the brain's internal code of movement, It would significantly assist us in better treating a wide range of medical issues. But we're not quite there.

 

 

 

- [Announcer] Dr. Carradine, pick up at 2185.

 

 

 

- People in my situation, you know, they just never move again. It's hard sometimes to think about that. I always want to do more. Like, I wanna move from this point to that point without help. I don't know, probably eat something by myself. If it ever happens. You know, have somebody bring me a plate of something, and then I'll say "Okay, you can go away, "I'm gonna eat this. "Come back in about half an hour." But I don't think about it a lot because I know there's a lot of research yet to go before that happens.

 

 

 

- Everything we're trying to do, everything we're trying to become, everything we're trying to fix, sits on the other side of the brain. The brain is the single highest potential area of focus we have in existence. It is our best tool to do the things we want to achieve in life, it is also the biggest limiter we have.

 

 

 

- This three pounds, is our entire universe. Our senses, our emotions.

 

 

 

- Love, hate, fear, jealousy,

 

 

 

- The way we move, the way we control our body.

 

 

 

- [Man] Our culture, our language,

 

 

 

- [Manuel] Our hopes, our dreams, our aspirations

 

 

 

- [Chantel] Motivation, pride, wonder.

 

 

 

- [Manuel] The brain defines what we are.

 

 

 

- But because the brain runs so efficiently behind the scenes, it's typically only when something goes wrong that we appreciate the magnitude of what's actually happening there.

 

 

 

- I'm not really sure what's happening in my brain. Anxiety, insomnia, paralysis. Parkinson's is different for everybody. Just depends on what you get. Okay.

 

 

 

- That's a cardinal, right? The one with that whistle, that one.

 

 

 

- [Anne] Yeah.

 

 

 

- [Stan] Anne and I have been married for 38 years.

 

 

 

- [Anne] Look, the hydrangeas, it hasn't bloomed.

 

 

 

- I think Anne has one of the most gentle hearts on earth. Things have gradually changed over the years. She used to be an artist. She was a hospice volunteer. All that had to be left behind.

 

 

 

- When I was diagnosed, I think the biggest thing for me was that I would become useless. You know, I'll be a burden to my to my children, and to my husband. And a burden just in the world. One of the Parkinson's symptoms that I was always afraid of was that you couldn't smile and you smiled you had a stony expression. It's hard to connect with people. I'm just way too exhausted and way too disorganized mentally to be with people the way I used to. This illness, you know, all you can do is accept it.

 

 

 

- [Bryan] There's nothing more dehumanizing than watching someone you love slowly lose their humanhood and yet if you look at the state of neuroscience right now, we still have an incredibly long way to go.

 

 

 

- The brain has always been a black box to us. In the past, we've had rudimentary ideas of how it works.

 

 

 

- We know that there are circuits that control your vision, your memory, your movement.

 

 

 

- But we still don't know the code. We don't know the internal language. That's because the brain is the most complicated object we've ever encountered in nature.

 

 

 

- [Miguel] You know, think about it we have in each human brain, roughly a hundred billion neurons. 100 billion was the old estimate of the number of galaxies in the universe.

 

 

 

- [David] Each neuron is as complicated as the city of Los Angeles. It's connecting to about 10,000 of its neighbors so you have, 500 trillion connections.

 

 

 

- And these neurons they communicate with each other. And they're firing electrical signals to each other the same way our computers fire zeros and ones inside of themselves.

 

 

 

- To think about those individual neurons firing, at a speed that we can't even understand yet, it's mind-boggling.

 

 

 

- It's so unbelievably complicated and yet somehow it is us.

 

 

 

- [Bobby] The electrical firing of these little neurons is who you are. What is it saying? What is it communicating?

 

 

 

- [Narrator] Jim drinks and hands the flask back to McCoy. The shuttle rises among the mass of pipes and fence in the shipyard and arcs up into the sky.

 

 

 

- I was born with a condition that didn't surface until later in life. Everything's white. It's blank. It's like having a book, you know? You've got a written page and then you've got a blank page. So I'm looking at a blank page. I live on my own. I have a cat. Come on, Angie. It's a second-hand cat. Treat time. Oh, look at that. Her name originally was Angel. And I said, "Nah, she's not an angel", so I gave her Angie. Yeah, she's hiding somewhere. When I lost my vision, it's like the whole world collapsed. And probably one of the most difficult thing to do is to ask for help. You want a coffee, Denise?

 

 

 

- [Denise] Yeah, that'd be great.

 

 

 

- [Stephen] Is Dark Roast fine?

 

 

 

- [Denise] That's good, sounds good.

 

 

 

- [Stephen] Good, cause that's all I got.

 

 

 

- [Denise] As long as it's coffee.

 

 

 

- [Stephen] Okay let's see what else we have here.

 

 

 

- We fight like brothers and sisters do. But in the last couple years we've got very very close.

 

 

 

- [Stephen] Oh, that's a toaster Denise. Yeah I got distracted.

 

 

 

- He's had relationships, he's had girlfriends. But through the years he just sort of pushed everybody away. What time did you tell me tomorrow?

 

 

 

- [Stephen] 11? It's really very difficult to have a conversation. Because you can't see them, you can't see their expression. You can only go by the tone of voice.

 

 

 

- The last time Stephen saw me was probably a year and a half to two years ago. That's been a really sad thing. Oop, careful.

 

 

 

- I thought you're gonna grab it.

 

 

 

- Oop, I got it.

 

 

 

- Okay, thanks.

 

 

 

- I'm not as quick as you.

 

 

 

- You gotta be quick.

 

 

 

- [Denise] I know.

 

 

 

- I pretty well depend on her 100% for emotional support and as an intervener. And also to check my mail. We love each other very much.

 

 

 

- [Clock] 4:06 p.m.

 

 

 

- [Stephen] But I just miss being independent.

 

 

 

- [Miguel] An estimated one billion people around the world that suffer from some sort of brain disorder.

 

 

 

- [Shriver] Every 66 seconds a new brain in this country develops Alzheimer's.

 

 

 

- [Newscaster] Without a breakthrough right now the dementia rate will double every 20 years.

 

 

 

- [John] An Estimated 43.8 million American adults dealt with a mental illness and an estimated 10 million of them suffer from a serious mental illness.

 

 

 

- I think everybody has personal experience to some degree with depression or anxiety, Parkinson's, Alzheimers. Whatever the condition is, it's devastating to that person, to their loved ones, and to society. I experienced a decade of chronic depression and I know what it's like to feel hopelessness at a depth. Nothing is more important than addressing a broken brain. To me, it's the most important conversation in the entire world.

 

 

 

- [Man] We have a real treat for you today , a great entrepreneur.

 

 

 

- [Man] Today's guest is the modern American rags to riches story, he started with nothing.

 

 

 

- [Man] Today Bryan Johnson is with us who's investing in some of the most important areas of biology and technology.

 

 

 

- Over the past couple of years I built a neuroscience company where I'm pursuing breakthrough discoveries in the brain.

 

 

 

- [Woman] Bryan Johnson invested $100 million dollars in his own neuroscience company.

 

 

 

- [Man] With the belief that unlocking our brain is the most significant opportunity in history.

 

 

 

- Morning everyone. A lot of times when I talk to people about the future they'll take what exists today and they will, I basically spend every waking moment trying to convince people that working on the brain is the single most consequential thing we could be doing as a species. Today I would like to try and make the case on why I think the brain is important. We now have the tools to make attempts at these breakthroughs. We're one of the first generations in the world that cannot see past 15-20 years and so as a society, how do we become interested in this radical cognitive evolution? I've spoken at countless conferences. I write an email newsletter, blog posts. I'm writing a book because I am consumed with this discussion, our situation, our potential. Fortunately there are these fascinating developments going on in neuroscience where our technology is enabling possibilities we never had before. Possibilities that will undoubtedly transform the human race. But the first humans already walking down this new evolutionary path are not who most people expect.

 

 

 

- [Stan] Oh hi, It's Stan Shabason speaking. I'm just calling to confirm Anne's appointment this Tuesday at three p.m.

 

 

 

- Someone who I was seeing through the movement disorder clinic said there's this procedure called Deep Brain Stimulation that I should be open to.

 

 

 

- Great, thank you very much, we'll see you then. She tried alternative therapies. Everything from naturopath, osteopaths, nothing seemed to help.

 

 

 

- In Parkinson's disease, the neurons that produce dopamine in your brain are dying. That causes tremor, rigidity, akinesia or inability to move. So we implant electrodes inside the brain to suppress this abnormal activity that is causing the motor system to shut down. And we use electrical stimulation 24 hours a day.

 

 

 

- We were told this operation would offer her relief. But Anne's very wary of any kind of dramatic procedure.

 

 

 

- [Andres] Patients are worried, you know, "Will I be the same, coming out, as I was going in?"

 

 

 

- [Anne] Someone's cutting into your brain. You don't know what's going to happen.

 

 

 

- There's a tremendous amount of anxiety about whether they are going to change in their outlook, in their personality, in their motivation, in their drive. You know, this is brain surgery. It's invasive. It is a scary thought.

 

 

 

- [Anne] They say my symptoms might improve. But cutting your body open and putting things in your body, I don't think I'm capable of risking that.

 

 

 

- The idea of having electrodes that are in your brain, that stimulate your brain, is something that's a concern for people. And it just puts the burden on being extremely careful in the design of these electronics. Here at the Wyss center we develop implantable technology and test it to show that it's safe, to show that it's effective. It's a very complex process and it's a very expensive process. First, we have to develop this brain electrode

 

 

 

- This is a technically very difficult challenge. We need to avoid dust, biological contamination, ionic contamination. And so this electrode consists of very special material. We are touching a very sensitive part of the human body so we can not fool around.

 

 

 

- Anything that's powered gets warm, so we use thermal imaging to understand how hot does it get and where does it get hot. The next step is an extremely complicated surgical procedure

 

 

 

- [Claude] We need to pass the barrier of the scalp, of the skull.

 

 

 

- And implant the electrode into or onto the brain. Once inside, these electrodes can pick up the tiny electrical impulses of the neurons and convert them into a signal we can understand like a digital code.

 

 

 

- It's a messy messy messy code. There's a hundred billion neurons. But once you're getting data out of the brain, you have digital information. You can do with it anything you can do with digital information.

 

 

 

- It's called a brain computer interface.

 

 

 

- Brain computer interfaces give us the ability to understand the brain, to understand its electrical signals in order to replace lost function.

 

 

 

- Brain science for the first time is showing us how we can understand ourselves at the level of the machine.

 

 

 

- The spectrum of areas where you can help in brain-computer interfaces is really tremendous.

 

 

 

- Could we solve mental illness? Cure people who are sick? Could we give sight to the blind, restore hearing to the deaf? Could we restore our unique human capabilities? The capabilities that have been taken away?

 

 

 

- When my doctor told me about it, he said, "We have a research project "and it's a little Star Trekky" And I perked up and said, "Oh, well this must be interesting." It did seem like something out of science fiction. So everything's gonna work today, right?

 

 

 

- [Robert] That's up to you, Bill. I met Bill about, I would say a year before we did the brain implant.

 

 

 

- [Man] Is that good?

 

 

 

- We said, "You know there's surgery involved, "and this is experimental. "It's a little bit on the edge "of what sort of our colleagues are ready to accept."

 

 

 

- [Bill] They had been looking for a patient for quite a while.

 

 

 

- [Man] How's that look?

 

 

 

- [Robert] Good.

 

 

 

- [Bill] And I couldn't understand why somebody along the way wouldn't want to do this.

 

 

 

- [Man] Everything's looking good.

 

 

 

- We have two microelectrode arrays implanted into Bill's primary motor cortex. Four by four millimeters in size and ninety-six recording electrodes. Each electrode penetrates the cortical tissue, 1.5 millimeters in depth and can record the activity of individual neurons. So Bill one of the things we need to do is we need to calibrate the decoder, so watch and then also imagine you're performing those same movements.

 

 

 

- We have them watch an animation of an arm, imagine themselves as controlling those movements, and we'll build this algorithm decoding the movement intention. Excellent.

 

 

 

- [Bolu] We then send that intention to electrodes implanted in Bill's arm and hand. And our goal is to restore movement.

 

 

 

- [Man] Okay Bill I'm gonna go ahead and connect you to then, all right?

 

 

 

- [Bill] Yes.

 

 

 

- [Man] Okay, it's on.

 

 

 

- If the electrical activity in Bill's brain can stimulate in the right pattern, you can get an arm to move, a hand to open, a hand to close.

 

 

 

- [Man] Connect back to the card.

 

 

 

- [Robert] Imagine reaching out, imagine reaching up.

 

 

 

- [Man] All right, here we go.

 

 

 

- But it may not work. The signals change in my brain, so that's a task they struggle with a lot.

 

 

 

- We believe the potential is massive. But there are some technical challenges we are working towards overcoming.

 

 

 

- It's extraordinarily difficult to make breakthroughs in neuroscience. Scientists are tackling these really complicated problems, trying to do things that other people consider to be impossible. And it makes it both an extremely exciting time but also, it's daunting because we don't know the best approach to make progress. There's many reasons why neuroscience is an extremely difficult field to build in. You not only have the technological challenge of getting good neural signal, but then you have the scientific challenge of figuring out how to decode that signal. Optics, we're looking at geometrics in our design of the hardware. Then you have intense capital requirements often times in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Brandon, how are we doing on budget? We need to get this done in that timeframe. I know it's gonna be a lot. And finally, you have important safety and ethical considerations. It's challenging, to say the least. But I think it is absolutely essential that we make breakthroughs in the brain. If we can do that, we can overcome our biological limitations. We can reject the things that stop us from moving forward.

 

 

 

- [Announcer] Dr. Ford, please dial 114.

 

 

 

- [Stephen] This procedure was purely by accident.

 

 

 

- [Denise] Stephen had been to his eye specialist. He said, "I know a doctor who is doing some amazing things."

 

 

 

- [Stephen] It's called the Argus procedure. They've done between eight and 10 patients already. They implant a chip underneath the eye, and electrodes are hooked up to the brain.

 

 

 

- Hi, Stephen, it's Dr. Devenyi, how are you? This procedure, it's for sure the most complicated operation we do. This won't be bad.

 

 

 

- Sure. I cleared my schedule today just for this occasion.

 

 

 

- Good. And it's a significant intrusion into the eye. Basically there's a band that goes around the eye. Far back, we don't see it. And that has the receiving and transmitting electrodes. And then there's a portion from that,

 

 

 

- It's a new technology, so I'm not like I got a brochure. It's not a hundred percent, so something could go wrong. I'll see you soon.

 

 

 

- We'll get this done.

 

 

 

- Thank you very much. Okay, take care. But you reach a point when you're 55 years old, you're blind. Where do you go from there? So I said, yeah sure, why not? I got lots of time.

 

 

 

- [Anne] If you could do this list, we have to remember to tell the doctor tomorrow.

 

 

 

- [Stan] Okay. So half hour before your meds.

 

 

 

- [Anne] Everything slows down. That writhing of my,

 

 

 

- It's been several months. And this decision for the surgery, it's been very difficult for her of course and challenging for me. But my kids and I are encouraging her more and more to consider it. Both legs are cramping or just your right leg?

 

 

 

- No just my right leg.

 

 

 

- Right foot and leg cramping. Right foot over your left knee. Let's switch. Her symptoms are growing worse and worse. Come over to the left. Pull your right leg in,

 

 

 

- My husband's been incredible. But the thing that I'm concerned about is that not only do I have the illness, he has the illness. My family has the illness.

 

 

 

- Last time that we were sleeping in the same bed it's been at least a few years, I can't remember anymore.

 

 

 

- [Anne] I don't want to be a masochist because of my insistence on one way being the right way. But when it affects so many people, I think you also have a duty to try what's reasonable. So... I've decided to do it.

 

 

 

- [Stephen] I don't expect a miracle. I don't expect to be boarding a plane and going to Turkey. But I would like to move about on my own freely, within reason.

 

 

 

- Drapes.

 

 

 

- Drapes.

 

 

 

- Open.

 

 

 

- Open.

 

 

 

- [Bill] After my accident,

 

 

 

- [Computer] Head up.

 

 

 

- [Bill] They gave me the diagnosis and told me "You'll probably be a tetraplegic "for the rest of your life."

 

 

 

- [Computer] Head up.

 

 

 

- [Bill] But who knows what breakthroughs will happen?

 

 

 

- [Anne] Before, there didn't seem to be any other solution to break out of this except to make peace with it. But I'm not so interested in making peace with it anymore.

 

 

 

- [Stephen] I would like to be able to live independently and travel independently.

 

 

 

- [Anne] I would love to be doing artwork again. You know, just being able to express myself artistically.

 

 

 

- [Bill] Maybe I'll be able to move around in my chair, pick something up, eat something. Yeah I'm hoping for that day.

 

 

 

- [Anne] I don't need a perfect life. I don't need the best of anything. I just want to feel human again.

 

 

 

- The first thing we do is bolt a frame onto their skull. What are the measurements please? And they have to be awake. Anne, how are you doing? We then drill two holes in their head. Okay, let's go. We then place electrodes within trouble-making areas in the brain. This is a game where you have to be within one millimeter. What are the measurements please? That one millimeter means a difference between success and failure. We're gonna go down to zero. We put it about there. Alright, so we're in. So we should start recording neurons. Anne? We're starting to hear some of the neurons in your brain now. Once we're inside, we get the patient to move their arm or their leg, and we see whether those neurons are activated. So this neurons is involved with moving the shoulder.

 

 

 

- [Woman] Cleaned?

 

 

 

- [Nurse] Yes.

 

 

 

- [Surgeon] Forceps?

 

 

 

- Steven's procedure is truly the most remarkable development that I've witnessed in my career and truly something I didn't think any of us would see in our lifetimes.

 

 

 

- [Surgeon] Ready for the implants.

 

 

 

- [Robert] It essentially is a coalescence of machine and man in a way that is really quite hard to fathom.

 

 

 

- [Surgeon] We're good. Calipers please?

 

 

 

- [Andres] Anne? We're now gonna start to put some electricity through your electrode.

 

 

 

- [Miguel] What we're seeing is that technology's becoming part of us.

 

 

 

- [Andres] When I see three tell me if you feel anything, ready?

 

 

 

- [Miguel] Because we are linking biological brains directly to machines.

 

 

 

- [Andres] Look at her face carefully, there was a contraction in her lip. 1, 2, 3. So four is definitely moving her face.

 

 

 

- [Dustin] If you look at machines, they're capable, right?

 

 

 

- [Andres] Still there.

 

 

 

- They're bigger, they're faster, they're stronger, all that stuff.

 

 

 

- [Surgeon] Go ahead with the vitrectomy now.

 

 

 

- [Dustin] The human's a fragile beast, but it's creative and it's smart and it can push beyond.

 

 

 

- [Surgeon] Electrodes are functioning?

 

 

 

- [Nurse] Yes.

 

 

 

- [Dustin] Bring 'em together in symbiosis,

 

 

 

- [Surgeon] Focus on. That's good.

 

 

 

- [Dustin] Where you can keep the pieces that make us human, but use the advantages of the machine in ways we haven't been able to do before.

 

 

 

- [Surgeon] Marking pen please.

 

 

 

- [Robert D.] By this combination of electronics and the human body,

 

 

 

- [Surgeon] Is infusion on?

 

 

 

- I would have to say it's one of the most amazing achievements in all of medicine.

 

 

 

- [Surgeon] Forceps.

 

 

 

- [Robert D.] To be able to give back abilities to people that otherwise had no options whatsoever,

 

 

 

- [Surgeon] Load the tac. Secure.

 

 

 

- It's really quite remarkable.

 

 

 

- Anne? You're going to go to sleep. And after that we're going to put the battery in your chest. Okay. We are just seeing the very beginnings of this technology. So we're gonna leave an electrode here. Where there will be a blurring of the boundary between machine and biology and the two will, one day, merge. We're done.

 

 

 

- [Bryan] The fact is is that we are transforming into a new species, a technological species.

 

 

 

- [Dustin] It's really crossing the skin into the holy grail, the brain, and all these things that people associate with being who we are that people are somewhat uncomfortable with.

 

 

 

- [Ramez] If we can change what our brains can do, what does that mean?

 

 

 

- [Sara] As we're trying to intervene in the brain, we need to be very conscious of the ripple effects.

 

 

 

- [Bryan] We don't know what the outcome is going to be.

 

 

 

- [Man] For some people, it's a sci-fi step too far.

 

 

 

- There's a few hundred thousand people in the world who currently have implanted technology in their brain, and not many people know that. And knowing that of course I think changes people's perspectives that this has happened.

 

 

 

- [Man] Okay we're gonna put your forearm in a splint.

 

 

 

- [Bryan] It's happening.

 

 

 

- [Man] All right, here we go.

 

 

 

- And it's now moving at a speed that is much faster than before.

 

 

 

- [Man] That's good. Try it again.

 

 

 

- [Bryan] But the reality is implantable technology is intimidating. It's expensive, invasive, and only recommended for people with severe disease and dysfunction. But what if that wasn't the case? What if we had brain technology that was broadly accessible? And what if it didn't require surgery? Fortunately we are reaching a point where these possibilities are emerging. Imagine you had a brain interface you can just put on your head, no surgeries required and you could see all of your brain activity. Not just what you're aware of, but all of your brain activity. All of your thoughts, concerns, it was just out in front of you. So for example if you struggle with anxiety, you'd see in your brain activity that you've had this thought 94 times today and it's probably not necessary. Could this help you so you don't have that thought 94 times? Or can you see in this thought process that you were limiting your ability to do something because you didn't believe you could do it? But that's a limiting belief. You really can do it. And if we have the technology that gives us the ability to improve how our brains function, can we rethink the things that have always held us back? As someone who's building these tools to interface with the brain, my hope is that we get to a point in technological advancements where we are not limited by our technology, we're empowered by it so it is a matter of choice of what we want to become.

 

 

 

- [Nita] We're at the moment where there are a lot of very rapidly emerging technologies. Brain computer interfaces are starting to become part of mainstream society. There already is technology that can pick up simple, electrical activity from your brain through these things, like consumer EEG devices.

 

 

 

- [Woman] The Emotiv Insight is a portable, wearable device that allows you to capture what's going on in your brain in real time.

 

 

 

- If I wear one of these devices I can start to decode whether or not I'm drowsy or awake, whether or not paying attention or I'm unfocused, angry or experiencing some other kind of emotional state.

 

 

 

- So this is my brain right now?

 

 

 

- This is your brain right now.

 

 

 

- Oh my gosh.

 

 

 

- In real time.

 

 

 

- [Woman] This is wild.

 

 

 

- [Nita] There are also a number of people using headsets to focus and perform better.

 

 

 

- [Man] You can buy a TDCS device online or you can go to youtube and build one yourself.

 

 

 

- I have been experimenting in an effort to hopefully see some really awesome cognitive enhancement.

 

 

 

- The future of brain interfaces is probably the most fascinating unknown because we are at the infancy of this.

 

 

 

- As we crack the code of the brain, we're handing the reins of our own lives, of our own minds to us. We get to choose how we think, who we are.

 

 

 

- As we get better and better as a society at building brain interfaces, these can be applied to every aspect of our biological existence.

 

 

 

- [Ramez] Could we teach you a new skill? Could we help you communicate the emotion you're feeling to a loved one? What can and can't we do?

 

 

 

- [Justin] Alright then Preston. The experiment will begin shortly. Once you are asked a question, look on the left hand side if the answer to that question is yes. Look on the right hand side if the answer to that question is no. Does that make sense to you?

 

 

 

- Yes.

 

 

 

- [Justin] Wonderful. Are you comfortable?

 

 

 

- Mm.

 

 

 

- [Man] Subject number one is wearing an EEG cap to record electrical fluctuations from their brain. Subject number two is receiving the information through a magnetic pulse to the back of the brain.

 

 

 

- In the current experiment, we have two subjects in two different rooms, playing a game of 20 questions. The big difference is that the two people asking and answering questions are doing so using only signals from their brains.

 

 

 

- [Steven] TMS is armed.

 

 

 

- [Computer] The category is animals. There are eight possible answers.

 

 

 

- [Justin] Data is looking good. Let's go ahead.

 

 

 

- [Steven] You can send the first question.

 

 

 

- [Woman] The answer is yes.

 

 

 

- [Justin] Excellent.

 

 

 

- [Chantel] It doesn't matter if they're in the same room or on the other side of the world. We can extract the information from one brain, transmit it to a device that can encode information into another brain.

 

 

 

- No.

 

 

 

- Ultimately, the goal of this technology is to improve the human experience. To offer up the possibility of sharing the contents of my mind, my emotional state into somebody else, without words.

 

 

 

- When we can understand someone without the barrier of different languages, we could start to blur the boundaries between us. We could start to see the whole world as members of our tribe and have more empathy and compassion for them.

 

 

 

- It's always really hard in advance to know when you're at a turning point in society, when technology is gonna be so transformative that everything will change. And the question is, are we there right now? Are we about to fundamentally change what it means to be human? And if so, are we okay with that?

 

 

 

- [Woman] Safety test.

 

 

 

- [Robert D.] Stephen's implant is a brilliant device that essentially has two components. A band that's sewn around the eye with 60 electrodes on it that stimulate the retina.

 

 

 

- [Woman] Glasses on.

 

 

 

- [Robert D.] And a pair of glasses with a video camera on it that sends images wirelessly to the electrodes on the surface of the eyeball.

 

 

 

- [Woman] Beginning.

 

 

 

- [Devenyi] Those images then travel along the natural pathway of the optic nerve to the brain.

 

 

 

- [Woman] Electrodes activated.

 

 

 

- [Woman] You have good connection. We're gonna activate your device. Light off. Big light on please. Respond yes or no as to whether you're able to perceive something or not using the game controller.

 

 

 

- [Stephen] Okay.

 

 

 

- [Woman] So we wanna see how much stimulation each of your electrodes needs.

 

 

 

- [Stephen] Right.

 

 

 

- [Woman] Sending stimulation.

 

 

 

- [Stephen] I see something flashing.

 

 

 

- [Woman] Got it, okay.

 

 

 

- [Stephen] Another flash.

 

 

 

- [Woman] Okay. Does it seem any brighter?

 

 

 

- Too bright.

 

 

 

- [Woman] Reset.

 

 

 

- [Woman] Okay then I'm just gonna tweak some settings a little bit. Go ahead and respond to this last electrode.

 

 

 

- [Stephen] Oh. Very faintly, I can see a bit of the hand, yeah.

 

 

 

- [Woman] That's good. Go ahead and scan and see what you are able to perceive.

 

 

 

- You know, to the left, to the right. There's nothing there. Yeah I'm not picking up anything.

 

 

 

- [Woman] Doing some adjustments right now.

 

 

 

- [Woman] Send stimulation.

 

 

 

- [Stephen] Oh! I see something there.

 

 

 

- [Woman] Okay.

 

 

 

- I see, I mean, I've got the silhouette right there.

 

 

 

- [Woman] Okay.

 

 

 

- [Woman] Trigger.

 

 

 

- [Woman] Continue responding.

 

 

 

- [Stephen] I see you. Am I right?

 

 

 

- It's been a long time, Stephen.

 

 

 

- Denise?

 

 

 

- [Denise] Yes. You're looking right at me.

 

 

 

- Sorry.

 

 

 

- [Woman] That's huge, Stephen.

 

 

 

- [Stephen] It's a nice feeling.

 

 

 

- That's great.

 

 

 

- [Woman] Read that.

 

 

 

- Okay. I see something there.

 

 

 

- I think he'll get out more, he'll do more, he'll meet people.

 

 

 

- Okay I see her right in front of me.

 

 

 

- [Denise] It'll open up a whole new world.

 

 

 

- [Stephen] It's her.

 

 

 

- [Woman] Exactly.

 

 

 

- [Stephen] My, Denise, how you've grown.

 

 

 

- The hope is our patients see edges of objects, empty seats on subways, the outlines of people. Even fireworks. But as the technology's been improving, they see more and more. There's no limit to how much you could crank up the magnification and what sort of details we could potentially see.

 

 

 

- Right now, the prosthetic eyes that we have are not anywhere near as good as human eyes, but eventually they'll be better. And why couldn't we add infrared vision to them, or UV vision to them?

 

 

 

- So one of the latest experiments that we've been working on is using an infrared camera instead of the regular camera so patients could actually see in the dark.

 

 

 

- Our technology right now is about helping people with diseases or deficits of some sort but it's this exact same technology that will allow us to expand ourselves. Expand our reality, expand our senses, expand what we can do with our bodies.

 

 

 

- [Dr. Munoz] The left side. About 130 hertz, 60 microseconds. Let me check your baseline. So this is... So relax.

 

 

 

- [Anne] It was an extreme procedure. I mean they sliced my head open, they stuck tubes in. It's not for the faint of heart.

 

 

 

- [Dr. Lozano] Deep Brain Stimulation is a two part surgical procedure. The electrodes are implanted in the brain and then connected to a pacemaker in their chest. [Dr. Munoz] 3.5 volts. With a remote control, we are able to adjust how much current is delivered to the brain. Almost no rigidity. Very much like you would control the volume or change the channels on your television set. I will build up the voltage by .5 volts every step. In between steps I will check your rigidity. And the symptoms. Did you feel anything?

 

 

 

- Not yet.

 

 

 

- No, not yet. So I'll go a little higher. 1.5 here and here 1.5. 3.5 volts, 80%.

 

 

 

- Well this, whoa, my toes are really pulling on my left foot. They're going way up like that.

 

 

 

- [Dr. Munoz] It's a good sign.

 

 

 

- I feel my left side.

 

 

 

- Left side?

 

 

 

- Yeah, tingling on the bottom of my feet.

 

 

 

- By using electrical stimulation, not only can we suppress the symptoms but we're able to discover new areas and new functions of the brain where no man has ever gone before.

 

 

 

- Ugh, my tongue is getting bigger and bigger. Feels like, uh, down my throat.

 

 

 

- Tell me when it gets better. We're also realizing that this technique could be used to treat other disorders like Alzheimer's Disease, like depression, maybe even obesity.

 

 

 

- Oh my goodness, I can't describe it.

 

 

 

- Is it better now? Improving?

 

 

 

- It's improving.

 

 

 

- Yeah. Okay, all right. [Dr. Munoz] Now just walk to that corner back and forth. Very good. Let's see, so we'll pick contact three.

 

 

 

- [Dr. Lozano] I am convinced that in the future, I don't know if it'll be 10, 20, 30 years from now, if you said I really would like to be smarter, to be happier, I'd like to have more drive, more ambition. There's no reason why, at least in theory, you couldn't go to these areas and adjust the activity.

 

 

 

- [Doctor] For emergencies, you need to turn it off, this shuts it off.

 

 

 

- [Anne] Okay.

 

 

 

- [Ramez] Imagine you have a set of dials and you can say, "Oh, I want to be more extroverted, more empathetic and harder working." Imagine you could just do that on-demand by pushing a button.

 

 

 

- [Doctor] Just like that.

 

 

 

- [Dr. Devenyi] It's very interesting to contemplate where will technology take us. And as humans will it be able to make us better than we currently are?

 

 

 

- [Woman's Voice] Welcome, class. Today's lecture is about neuroethics. We are on the cusp of being able to truly unlock the secrets of the human brain. [Nita] But more than that, more than being able to understand what's happening in the brain, now we're able to make a lot of very precise changes to it. How many of you feel like your sense of self is in your brain? Many of you, right? Many of you identify your brain as the place that you recognize your sense of self identity. The place that you sort of think of you as being located. And if you change that, if you start to add machines to it, if you start to implant electrodes to it at what point does that start to become problematic? There is great benefit to these technologies, but there are risks. For example who has access to those devices? Who gets to drive and change those devices? Whether it's hackers, corporations, governments, other people, what protections if any exist within society today? It's arriving. And unless we start deciding today what kinds of protections you want for your brain, it may be too late. Does that make you uncomfortable? Because that's where we're going.

 

 

 

- The work that we're doing in direct brain interfaces that are gonna eventually one day let you communicate using only your mind.

 

 

 

- In just the last few years, there's been this sudden rush to fund more aggressive, more radical work in interfacing to the brain.

 

 

 

- Elon Musk is creating a big stir on social media this morning.

 

 

 

- Elon Musk has launched Neuralink.

 

 

 

- They will aim to connect the human brain with computers.

 

 

 

- That will enable anyone who wants to have super human cognition.

 

 

 

- But billions of people with enhanced cognitive ability? Radically enhanced?

 

 

 

- Yes, yes.

 

 

 

- Pass that whiskey. This is getting ridiculous

 

 

 

- What's happening in the brain is unprecedented. It's moving faster now than ever before.

 

 

 

- Together we have a goal of typing, five times faster than you can type on your phone, straight from your brain and we're just getting started.

 

 

 

- If you understand the brain, you get a tremendous amount of power to leverage.

 

 

 

- Some programmers call it brain hacking and the tech world would probably prefer you did't hear about it.

 

 

 

- We can't underestimate the incredible unchecked power that Google, Apple, Facebook have over what two billion people are thinking every day. That's more than the number of followers of Christianity. These are like private superpowers whose goals are not the same as our goals.

 

 

 

- Last week Facebook revealed that they are working on technology to read people's minds. Ah, yeah, we're in ing hell you guys, I don't even know what to say.

 

 

 

- People are far more likely to give up information about their brain to what they think are, these faceless corporations but they're really people who are driving that.

 

 

 

- One of the best algorithms that we have for mapping the brain comes from Google.

 

 

 

- Google is able to collect an amount of information about its users that would even make the NSA blush.

 

 

 

- Do I want my brain data ultimately owned by Google? I'm not sure I'm comfortable with that just yet.

 

 

 

- The Google policy about a lot of these things is to get right up to the creepy line but not cross it. Implanting things in your brain is beyond the creepy line at least for the moment.

 

 

 

- Whether we're just using phones or we have brain implants, history is littered with good intentions. Who's to say where we should go? Who's to say what's best for people?

 

 

 

- Is it going to be chancing corporations, is it going to be panicking governments, an ill informed public, over this thing? Somebody's got to keep close watch on this. Who's going to do that?

 

 

 

- [Jen] The risk is we don't know what the future holds. Should we even attempt to introduce technology like this on a mass large scale?

 

 

 

- That's right. These are tricky questions that have all kind of implications. The technology is transitioning from the medical domain into the mainstream. And as it does, the opportunities and challenges that this creates for us, we can't even begin to get our heads around. I'm very concerned about who makes breakthroughs in neuroscience. In the behaviors of people who've built the technology companies over the past decade, their decision making processes matter a lot and they influence society dramatically.

 

 

 

- I think everybody that started social media had the best intention and I don't think anybody foresaw the levels of depression and anxiety and addiction that it's caused.

 

 

 

- Most of us use social networks. Our opinions are being manipulated in ways that we don't even understand.

 

 

 

- How do we try to mitigate for all of the potential things that could go wrong on a mass scale that we can't even predict?

 

 

 

- As a society it's important we be ready for this. So I'm trying to figure out how to talk about these topics in a way that doesn't threaten people, that enables them to explore them with me. We are about to enter into the most consequential revolution in the history of the human race. Where we can take control of our cognitive evolution. It's a very big challenge because people are considering what they're going to lose. Who's going to do bad things? But I think one of the greatest limiters to progress is fear. Imagine if I had a tool to interface with my brain, where I could walk a mile in someone else's shoes. What if I could feel what it was like to be you? What if I could understand your contextual framework? What if I understand your memories and your emotions? Would that change the way we deal with each other? The way we cooperate, the way we make decisions? Would that change our creative ability? It's gonna be on our front doorsteps in 15-20 years on a scale we've never seen before. So how might we be thoughtful in building these technologies? The impact is going to be substantial. And to acknowledge that that is the case, and reconcile what that means will allow us to have productive conversations of how we might explore this, develop this, deal with this. Thank you. The reality is it's up to us. The key to our continued thriving, the key to everything we want is to open up and consider this new set of possibilities that we've never considered before.

 

 

 

- Before the operation, I went in hoping everything would be fine. That I would be a new person. But I was forced to accept the unknown and open myself up to something a little bit different. I can't really explain it. But when I try to see what it would be like if I didn't have the device on. I wait a few seconds and all the symptoms of Parkinson's are back. My toes are all curling under and I'm starting to sway. I get stiff. And I can't walk. My tongue gets even thicker. And it feels like I can't speak at all. And then when the device is turned on again, my movements become more fluid. It's as if this machine is motivating me to get it right. It's been almost a year since the surgery. I used to come down here and stare at my boxes of paper and wonder how in the world I was gonna make something. But now it's as if my motivation and creative ability has just clicked in. There's a connection that my brain is making to my hands that it never made before, and anything I want to do, I can do. Hi, Teddy. We had our first grandchild about three months ago.

 

 

 

- [Man] Let's go Mr. Jellybean.

 

 

 

- [Woman] The neurostimulator's stopping you from shaking your legs so now you can't jostle him.

 

 

 

- [Stan] Her anxiety, which was horrible, has disappeared. Now we can go to the city, take in a concert, take in a play.

 

 

 

- [Anne] It all comes together the same way it used to.

 

 

 

- [Stan] I mean I started taking dance lessons together.

 

 

 

- [Woman] Oh, you did?

 

 

 

- [Stan] The procedure didn't stop the disease from progressing. But we bought a lot of time.

 

 

 

- I get teary because you can see just that the things you did were worth doing. It's an amazing feeling that I can trust, I don't know how to even say this. but I can trust my brain to work better now.

 

 

 

- [Stephen] When I lost my vision, the hardest part was trying to figure out how to ask for help. Fortunately, I had my sister.

 

 

 

- Right by Roy Thomson Hall again.

 

 

 

- Okay.

 

 

 

- We're walking into the sunset.

 

 

 

- Why don't we go in there and get tickets to do something? At least it'll be warm.

 

 

 

- I'm hoping that over time I'll see outline of objects. Tables and doors. And when I'm crossing the street, I can distinguish, oh ok this is a car and it's coming right for me, get out of the way. I had to learn to retrain my mind and have a new perspective of my future.

 

 

 

- [Denise] I think his independence will come back. He's definitely got the motivation and the drive. I'm very excited for him.

 

 

 

- Before my accident, I didn't really think about medical research. You the star. I was just a pee-on too. Yeah, I was nobody. Now I'm somebody. But somebody has to do research or no breakthroughs are gonna happen. And even if I don't get any benefit out of this, eventually somebody's gonna benefit from what I'm doing and that makes me feel special.

 

 

 

- [Man] Right, Bill, you ready? This time it'll be you with no assistance. So it'll just be all you here.

 

 

 

- [Bill] I'm ready.

 

 

 

- [Man] All right, here we go. Open. Open. Open.

 

 

 

- [Man] Try it again. See if you can open your hand. Bill, focus.

 

 

 

- [Computer] Out.

 

 

 

- [Man] Just checking triceps.

 

 

 

- [Computer] Up. Close.

 

 

 

- [Man] Close your hand. Reach in. Down. Out.

 

 

 

- [Man] Biceps. Just checking. In.

 

 

 

- [Bolu] It's amazing. Out.

 

 

 

- [Man] Ready for some mashed potatoes?

 

 

 

- Yes I am. Like most people, you know, I thought quadriplegics all were, you know stuck in bed, they didn't do anything, didn't move around.

 

 

 

- [Man] Bring your arm down.

 

 

 

- He seems to have a very strong like elbow movements.

 

 

 

- [Bill] But now....

 

 

 

- [Man] Raise up again.

 

 

 

- [Bill] I'm learning that's not really true. Mashed Potatoes. I love it. To be able to eat something with a fork. It's wonderful.

 

 

 

- [Bolu] Good, good good. This is groundbreaking work. Bill Kochevar, is the first person to our knowledge to use an implanted brain computer interface to control both reaching and grasping just by thinking.

 

 

 

- [Man] Mashed potatoes now, steak next?

 

 

 

- [Bolu] He is a pioneer.

 

 

 

- [Man] You ready?

 

 

 

- [Bill] Yes I am!

 

 

 

- Bill is always asking us what is the next step. My hope is that it will eventually become available outside of a laboratory setting, invisible to the outside user and give persons with spinal cord injury the ability to perform tasks on their own, to increase their independence, to increase their quality of life. I believe that we can harness the power of the brain, and harness the power of computers, to overcome some of the most critical limitations we face.

 

 

 

- We are walking down this path of merging with our technology. The insights we make with the brain will invite all of us to ask questions of ourselves that challenge our deepest held beliefs on identity and purpose. So what does it mean to be human? To me, it means we can become anything we want.

 

 

 

- [Bill] Sleep.

 

 

 

- [Computer] Sleep.

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