Better Brain Interfaces Are Like Internet Shifting From Dial-Up to Broadband

Kernal is developing invasive and non-invasive brain-machine interface and neuroscience technology. Kernel is a private neurotechnology company headquartered in Los Angeles, California. The company was founded in 2016 by Bryan Johnson who backed it with a personal investment of $54 million. Bryan was founder, chairman and CEO of Braintree, a company that specialized in mobile and web payment systems for eCommerce companies. Braintree acquired Venmo in 2012 for $26.2 million. The combined company was acquired by eBay in 2013 for $800 million. In July 2020, Kernel had raised $53 million from outside investors.

Bryan Johnson believes brain interfaces technology is like the early stages of the internet changing from dial-up to broadband. If there is enabling hardware success then the larger opportunity is an industry built on top.

In May 2020, Kernel unveiled two brain-activity monitoring devices.

One device, Flux, measures electromagnetic activity. Another, Flow, pulses the brain with light to measure changes in blood metabolism. Kernel’s hardware prevents environmental interference; custom microchips process signals, and algorithms analyze brain activity. The company shrunk large, room-sized machines down to the size of a wearable bicycle helmet, which allows people to be more mobile as they are monitored. The devices are expected to become available for purchase in late 2021. Potential applications of the technology include assisting paralyzed individuals with communication and tracking mental functions, such as creativity or anxiety.

At the same time, Kernel introduced “Sound ID,” software that can tell what speech or song a person is listening to just from brain data. Bloomberg called the software “a sort of Shazam for the mind”, referring to the popular music-recognition app, Shazam. In a demonstration, music producer and DJ Steve Aoki tried one of Kernel’s helmets with Sound ID technology. As Aoki listened to his own compositions, Kernel software analyzed Aoki’s brain activity and identified the song being played

SOURCES- Kernel, Lex Friedman, Wikipedia
Written by Brian Wang,

12 thoughts on “Better Brain Interfaces Are Like Internet Shifting From Dial-Up to Broadband”

  1. Light speed delay limits how extensive any hive mind can be. If it is really a threat, then interplanetary distances should be enough to avoid being in one hive mind, though as you note you might just end up setting up multiple hive minds that each extend only about a light second.

  2. I've got serious doubts about the Copernican principle and prediction. Sure, it gives you some sort of basis for an estimate when you lack basically all relevant data, but it isn't really any kind of substitute for having data. 

    That said, avoiding joining the Borg actually IS a valid reason for immigrating to deep space.

  3. Bring it. Better memory storage and access, improved pattern recognition, and the list goes on. Soaring human capability has the potential exponentially increase even the current exponential growth in knowledge and capabilities and even keep us viable in the face of Strong AIs.

    My future line for this century shows eventual multi-threading of the human mind, followed by multiple instantiations, networking those instances, and then, towards the very end of the century, networking the networks. Would wars be fought to add networks that lose to the victor's network?

    Regardless, it may be the first real impetus for emigrating out of the Solar System will come from those who can see the hive mind on the horizon and want no part of it. Questions then being: How far must they flee? Will it catch up to them? Will they just eventually recreate it wherever they finally settle? And, of course, how much individuality would the components of the hive mind be permitted to retain?

    It would certain gibe with how Gott's Copernican equations project a 95% chance we are within 3 to 17 generations of the end of mainstream humanity as we know ourselves (the larger numbers of generations require the population to get enormously smaller in a very short period of time).

  4. That's a real concern, which I've actually seen figure in some SF.

    It should be more of an issue with invasive systems, like Musk's neural lace. The above magnetic system should be upgradeable, because it doesn't actually penetrate the brain. Brain penetrating systems cause a tiny bit of brain damage as they're installed, not something you want to repeat that often.

    I do plan on holding off on anything like this until there's either interoperability, or it has become medically necessary.

  5. "…“Sound ID,” software that can tell what speech or song a person is listening to just from brain data. Bloomberg called the software “a sort of Shazam for the mind”
    Time to literally line my hat with tinfoil.

  6. A serious risk of this that while software is mostly fixable/updateable, the specific hardware techniques of the brain implants will effectively cause vendor/version lock-in. There may be specific techniques that prevent the install of other types, simply due to interference or the inability to replace due to inability to safely remove without damage that interferes with installing a different type (not necessarily damage that effects human brain functionality).

    We're talking serious examples of the platform wars writ large, the version wars as one might call it. Imagine the spit between iPhone and android users being a static issue, almost on par to things like ethnicity or national origin. The worst will be people forever stuck with an older version that can't be updated. What happens when the vendor declares end of support? EoL takes on a literal meaning?

    BCI may be a specific case of needing open standards and interoperability, and in some cases full open source software and hardware (or at least the full platform design information needs to be held in escrow for users facing end of support).

    That's just upfront platform lifecycle and maintenance here. Never mind the ancillary issue of human slavery, full on censorship/disinformation via sensory input modification, and panopticon surveillance, just to name a few issues.

  7. Let's not make it be like shifting from dial up to broadband without anti-viral software or a firewall.

  8. the foresight institute never saw this coming. I've tried to explain to them the dark side of the force, and that human abuse is the problem, not industrial accident; they played dark side of the force games. They are one. Does a fish know when it's wet?

  9. the foresight institute, Bill Joy, and the majority of people don't understand that it's human abuse that is the problem, and not some super intelligence that somehow becomes conscious and the first thought it's going to have is that it has to get rid of humanity. Tay the twitter chat bot proves it.

  10. I don't suppose their device can really get language and images out of the brain yet; it's my understanding this won't become readily accessible to the public till like 2030.

    But, i know that Bryan Johnson understands that this technology will force mankind to grow up. I started following him and Kernel a few months ago, and watched plenty of interviews.

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