The new technology will be the basis of an innovative prosthesis of neural language.
Electrodes applied directly to the brain to allow speech to those who have lost the use of voice? Thanks to Professor Edward Chang of the Department of Neurosurgery at the University of San Francisco, this dream could come true.
Strokes, head injuries, neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis or ALS, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, can often cause an irreversible loss of ability to speak. Some people with speech disabilities learn to write down their thoughts letter by letter, using assistive devices that monitor eye or facialmovements, even if imperceptible.
These devices, however, produce a text written very slowly, up to ten words per minute, compared to 100 or 150 in natural language, and are often subject to errors. The news of the invention of professor Chang, has been spread by the magazine “Nature” and promptly taken up by the BBC. Operation is simple: the electrodes are implanted directly into precise areas of the brain.
Then the game’s over. Just think, and electrodes read the traces of neuronal activities, so automatically the thought is translated into words. In this way, even those who have lost the use of the voice, would promptly regain the use of the word. Like any revolutionary invention, however, it could be misused. It could induce prefabricated thoughts, so to speak, to build, little by little, a total consensus on a deviated thought. A little ‘what you build, thanks to the Internet, around the fake news, so … better go slow.