What are brain-computer interfaces?

A brain-computer interface (BCI) is a direct communication pathway between the brain and a computer device. BCI research has already provided some useful technology such as a device that restores (partial) sight to the blind, cochlear implants that restore hearing to the deaf, and a device that allows use of an artificial hand by direct thought.

Such devices restore impaired functions, but many researchers expect to also use BCIs to augment and improve normal human abilities. Ed Boyden is researching these opportunities as the lead of the Synthetic Neurobiology Group at MIT. Such devices might hasten the arrival of an intelligence explosion, if only by improving human intelligence so that the hard problems of AI can be solved more rapidly.