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Human Brain Communicating With Internet
By Fanny Bates

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As the Nobel Prize winner Stanley B. Prusiner said, the human brain is 鈥渢he most fascinating object in the universe鈥, and yet much of it is still a mystery. It鈥檚 estimated that the human brain comprises of roughly 88 billion neurons, processing an impressive 400 billion bits of information per second. In other words, the brain is far more powerful than even the best supercomputers. To compete against this new artificial intelligence, we need to go beyond the surface and unlock the mysteries of the human brain.


Brain-Computer Interface technologies are having their moment these days. It may seem like you are entering the world of sci-fi movies, but it actually has some promising moments. The latest and the most promising experiment in neuroscience is the Brainternet.


Brainternet: How Does It Function?


Transmitting neural impulses into bodily movements is not an easy task and it requires time. For example, if you Google something, your brain transmits a neural signal to your fingers in order to type the information. Imagine if you could skip this step and communicate directly with the machine using your brain - not only you would save time, but also expand the scope of possibilities. Even those with brain impairment illnesses could move beyond their limits.

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Adam Pantanowitz


This was the original idea of the creator and the man behind the Brainternet project, Adam Pantanowitz. He said that 鈥淭he Brainternet is a new frontier in brain-computer interface systems,鈥 adding that 鈥渢here is a lack of easily understood data about how a human brain works and processes information. Brainternet seeks to simplify a person鈥檚 understanding of their own brain and the brains of others. It does this through continuous monitoring of brain activity as well as enabling some interactivity.鈥 Pantanowitz, together with his students, Jemma-Faye Chait, and Danielle Winter at Wits University in Johannesburg, South Africa, succeeded in uploading and streaming brainwaves to the Internet. Even though his original plan was to communicate through an electroencephalogram headset, in the end, he went for a portable Emotiv EEG headset and mini Raspberry Pi computer, equipping them with either 3G or LTE.


In order to achieve Brainternet鈥檚 full functionality, subjects wear the Emotiv headset, which monitors brain activity in an open source live stream. During the extended period of time, this powered, Internet accessible device collects information from the brain waves and transmits them to a card-sized computer, Raspberry Pi. To enable communication between the two software programs, the team of researchers has developed an application programming interface with the end data being displayed on an open portal (website).


But the team鈥檚 current accomplishments are just a hint of what is yet to come. As Pantanowitz explains: 鈥淯ltimately, we鈥檙e aiming to enable interactivity between the user and their brain so that the user can provide a stimulus and see the response.鈥 He believes that the Brainternet could be improved by using smartphone apps to help classify brain wave recordings and to 鈥減rovide data for a machine-learning algorithm鈥. The Emotiv can record up to 14 channels of brain activity, with electrodes placed on key points of the wearer鈥檚 head. This basically means the researcher team can monitor a myriad of different areas of the human brain simultaneously.


The key goal for computer and neuroscientists further expands to coming up with a reliable method of brain-computer communication. To achieve a more interactive experience between the user and the human brain would be a huge breakthrough in medicine and would be very beneficial for the better understanding of brain illnesses such as Alzheimer's disease.

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Dangers of an Open Source Network


Wikipedia, news, social media and other types of online content are more and more integrated with the human brain. Flow of real-time information becomes faster and faster and even meeting or finding someone has become very easy through Facebook or Instagram. However, the basic human right to privacy has become harder to achieve, now more than ever. With Elon Musk鈥檚 NeuraLink and Bryan Johnson鈥檚 Kernel, the Brain-Computer Interface technologies became one of the most ambitious projects in the world.


This means that these projects are extremely profitable and it will be hard to control the amount of data sent in this process. The software will gather personal information from the brain, so our right to neural privacy will become much more significant, especially if you can interfere with the process and plant any type of information. To prevent this, Pantanowitz brought up the possibility of creating a completely new network, or a quantum Internet. Even though we are probably decades away from that, this concept could entirely change the way we communicate with others and perceive the world around us.

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