Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan have raised nearly $5 billion by selling almost 29 million Facebook shares to fund an ambitious research programme called the Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI).
A part of the research programme includes the development of a brain-machine interface and devices that can essentially translate thoughts into commands.
In a paper published in the journal Nature, the researchers explained how a wireless brain device implanted in a monkey can record, stimulate, and modify its brain activity in real time. It can sense normal movements or even stop it immediately.
The device, labeled as the “WAND” in the paper, can stop a monkey from performing its trained behavior. For the experiment, this behavior involved “moving a cursor to a target on a screen using a joystick and holding the target there for a set period of time.”
The scientists are referring to this kind of interference as “therapy” as it is aimed at treating diseases like epilepsy or Parkinson’s where a seizure could be stopped or disrupted as soon as it starts.
“Our device is able to monitor the primate’s brain while it’s providing the therapy so you know exactly what’s happening,” Rikky Muller, a co-author of the study, told Business Insider.
Other future applications of brain-machine interfaces include assisting people with spinal cord injuries or other illnesses that affect movement or even far-fetched ones like transforming how humans interact with laptops and smartphones.