Skip to main content
The Matthew White column

Tapping Into the Brain to Help a Paralyzed Man Speak

Occasionally I like to point people to amazing or ground breaking stories of what is possible right now… science fact, not science fiction.

This article is about a paralysed man having electrodes implanted into his brain to allow him to speak for the first time in 20 years.

It reads the neural activity of his speech centre, then uses machine learning to estimate what he’s trying to say. This is quite frankly amazing.

When you read behind the story, you see that for almost a decade, researches had mapped other people’s neuronal activity from implants, and used that machine learning to form a kind of dictionary or translation between the neurons and the expected pattern.

On thing is totally clear. This will only get better. The application of this technology will become wider and all the other parts around it (the surgery, the ports on the skull, the tech standards, the processing power)… everything will keep improving to where it’s entirely plausible that in 20 years it will be common for specific conditions to have a routing implant surgery – just like certain heart conditions just get a routine pacemaker.

Btw.. ask your parents if when they were young, it would be common and regular to have open heart surgery and install electrodes on a beating heart to stop people from dying – that’s how commonplace brain reading tech will become to solve specific illnesses. Then from specific illnesses, another 20 years and we’ll have general conditions solve and maybe even enhancements.

Just remember that medical tech works much slower than say web based retail. Certifications and approvals adds 10 years to all changes. So too does the fear that failure=death means a much lower pool of people with such bad life conditions willing to take a shot at anything risky are available to test it out.

When I first created the idea for Flywheel, it was envisioned as being a 100 year company. In my lifetime, I’ve seen amazing future tech go from being science fiction to science fact – GPS tracking for one. That’s from the days as a computer nerd in the 1980s reading advanced science predictions. To this day, that’s not changed. What has changed is that I’ve seen these things come true. What’s also changed is that I promised myself I’d be part of this, making it available to customers globally (and off the planet too). That last part is only a few years away, but I can see it coming.

Hopefully, Flywheel will be working on advanced tech, as well as important business tech for customers for many more decades.

For now, if you need help with your business or school computing, contact one of our infrastructure consultants to see how to apply the current technology to reduce your operating costs.