Forget natural evolution, it looks like we could face a future full of cyborgs, as scientists have discovered a new material that could merge artificial intelligence with the human brain.
I have to admit, it would be handy to have an Alexa or Google Assistant in your head for when you find yourself lacking in knowledge on a particular subject, but the thought of being part-robot is a scary one.
It’s an idea previously raised by SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, who has spoken in the past about installing a chip into the brain to allow people to stream music, and now it looks to be one step closer to fruition.
The bio-synthetic material, known as Pedot, can apparently be used to merge artificial intelligence with the brain, according to scientists who presented their findings at the American Chemical Society Fall 2020 virtual expo today, August 17.
The ground-breaking discovery is a major step towards integrating electronics with the body, reports, meaning that part-human, part-robot cyborgs could become part of everyday life, rather than an entity made up for science-fiction.
Dr David Martin, who led the study, explained:
We got the idea for this project because we were trying to interface rigid organic microelectrodes with the brain, but brains are made out of organic, salty, live materials.
It wasn’t working well, so we thought there must be a better way. We started looking at organic electronic materials like conjugated polymers that were being used in non-biological devices. We found a chemically stable example that was sold commercially as an antistatic coating for electronic displays.
The ability to connect electronics to human tissue has been a challenge in the past because traditional materials such as gold, silicon and steel cause scarring when implanted, which can interrupt electrical signals flowing between computers and muscle or brain tissue.
Pedot has the properties needed to connect electronic hardware with human tissue without causing scarring, while also dramatically improving the performance of medical implants.
The latest research into the polymer used a Pedot film with an antibody that stimulates blood vessel growth after injury, and which could be used to detect early stages of tumour growth in the body. Pedot polymers could also be used to help sense or treat brain or nervous system disorders, while versions could theoretically attach peptides, antibodies and DNA.
Martin said his dream is to be able to tailor the way these materials deposit on a surface, then to put them in tissue in a living organism.
The ability to do the polymerization in a controlled way inside a living organism would be fascinating.
Be careful who you trust, because sooner or later they could be half-robot.