It’s been 2 years since we last checked out a robot arm controlled by a monkey brain. That arm (from back in 2008) had only four degrees of freedom, and this one is a whopping seven, but that doesn’t seem to phase the monkey much, as it deftly uses brain control to grasp a knob with the arm and receive a tasty reward.
At this point, the monkey is relying on two brain implants (in the arm and hand areas of its motor cortex) to interpret nerve impulses and use them to control the arm. The fantasy is (as least, as this technology applies to people with disabilities) is to make the controller non-invasive, and some of the technology is sort of there. Sort of. But perhaps more importantly, this experiment shows just how capable and adaptable a brain is, and the potential is very exciting. Or at least, my brain is excited… My body, on the other hand, is getting a little worried about its potential obsolescence.