Creating the 10-Second Brain Interface
When is the last time you tried to assemble something and the instructions left out a tiny but critical piece of information for you to move from step eight to step nine?
Maybe it’s an information bit buried on a screen, non-obvious option for filling out your tax return, one too many acronyms, unidentifiable icon on a map, misinformation on a credit report, or a super important detail that was left out of a product you just purchased, but the world is filled with non-intuitive fine points that can turn a great day into an anxiety cluster in a matter of minutes!
But every day seems to have more and more holes in it, created by these 10-second gaps of information.
We rely on Google, YouTube, and friends to search for answers, but most of the time we don’t even know how to ask the question.
At the same time, the distance between information and our brain is getting shorter. Twenty years ago if you had access to a large information base, such as the Library of Congress, and someone asked you a series of questions, your task would have been to pour through the racks of books to come up with the answers. The time involved could have easily have been 10 hours per question.
Today, if we are faced with uncovering answers from a digital Library of Congress, using keyboards and computer screens, the time-to-answer process has been reduced to as little as 10 minutes.
The next iteration of interface design will give us the power to find answers in as little as 10 seconds. We will have some device that allows us to simply “think” our way to an answer.
We are very close to making the jump to the 10-second interface. This turbo-charged brain-to-web interaction will make today’s slow connection speeds look like ancient history. Every question will have an answer, every problem will have a full list of possible solutions.
…at least we hope it will.
That’s exactly what Elon Musk’s Neuralink is attempting to do. Neuralink is a brain implant the size of four dollar coins with more than 1,000 electrodes that will allow a person to communicate wirelessly, by sending neuroelectrical messages to anything digital, ranging from prosthetic arms, to the autopilots on driverless cars, to memory-archive services on cloud servers.
In its current form, Neuralink’s thin, flexible electrodes, along with the sewing-machine robot needed to insert them may be the ultimate brain-to-information communications channel.
The 5-micron-wide wires the company uses are designed to be that small so they’ll cause less damage to blood vessels during installation. As we all know, damaging the tiny blood vessels that carry oxygen and blood to the brain would be a bad thing.
The more permanent electrodes used today seem huge in comparison, and tend to stay stuck to the skull, which means they can do even more damage as the brain tissue sloshes around during our daily activities. Flexible wires have the ability to move with the brain. Neuralink’s Bluetooth wireless connection means there are no wires sticking out of someone’s head, which would be problematic and a likely place for infections.
When the 10-second interface finally arrives, whether it’s Neuralink or something else, I will invite all of you to join me for a 10-second toast as we stop to celebrate the importance of this accomplishment.
Enjoy it while you can, the next celebration, perhaps only a few more years away, will only last 10-milliseconds.