The Department of Defense’s research and development wing, DARPA, is working on technology to read and write to the human brain. The focus isn’t on mind control but rather machine control, allowing the human brain to directly send instructions to machines. The goal of the process is to streamline thought control of machines to the point where humans could control them with a simple helmet or head-mounted device, making operating such systems easier.
The brain makes physical events happen by turning thoughts into action, sending instructions through the nervous system to organs, limbs, and other parts of the body. It effortlessly sends out a constant stream of commands to do everything from drive a car to make breakfast. To operate today’s machines, humans being need a middleman of sorts, a physical control system manipulated by hands, fingers, and feet.
What if human beings could cut out the middleman, operating a machine simply by thinking at it? So DARPA is funding the Next Generation Nonsurgical Neurotechnology (N3) initiative. N3’s goal is to create a control system for machines—including weapons—that can directly interact with the human brain. According to IEEE Spectrum, DARPA is experimenting with “magnetic fields, electric fields, acoustic fields (ultrasound) and light” as a means of controlling machines.