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未来系列:脑机接口与神经接口

本文含有虚构性写作,请保持独立思考。

FUTURES: Brain-Machine Interfaces and the Neural Interface Project

by K. D. Williamson

70年前,神经科学家联合一些神经技术公司成立了NIP(Neural Interface Project神经接口项目)来领导康复行业。双向灰质“芯片”被植入大脑,通过编程解决了一系列令人难以置信的问题,这些问题困扰了世界各地的好几代医学科学家。梦想总是很美好,但有时现时却比梦想更加丰满。

Seven decades ago, neuroscientists and neurotechnology companies formed the NIP (Neural Interface Project) to lead the industry in rehabilitation. Bidirectional gray matter “chips” were implanted in the brain and programmed to solve an incredible range of issues which had plagued medical scientists worldwide for generations. The dream was always big, but the reality became bigger.

这个时代的最早一代脑机接口可以刺激运动,读取大脑信号并将其传送给辅助设备。企业家的野心和资金推动了科技的飞速发展。新芯片可以桥接癫痫患者受损的神经元,避开创伤性脑损伤患者的受损组织,改善情绪调节,抑制不必要的感觉、知觉和行为。

The earliest brain machines of the era could stimulate movement and read and communicate brain signals to assistive devices. The ambitions and pockets of entrepreneurs sent the tech rocketing forward. The new chips could bridge damaged neurons in epilepsy patients, sidestep impacted tissue in traumatic brain injury patients, improve emotion regulation, and inhibit unwanted sensations, perceptions, and behavior.

在头五年里,中风和脊髓损伤患者的住院康复时间减少了一半。在接下来的五年里,抗抑郁药和抗精神病药几乎被淘汰。NIP因跨越了困扰人类一个世纪的障碍而饱受赞扬。

In the first five years, inpatient rehabilitation time for stroke and spinal cord injury patients halved. The next five years saw antidepressant and antipsychotic medications all but eliminated. The NIP was praised for scaling a mountain that we had skirted around for a century.

NIP进入监狱之中,对“已被证实的反社会人士”进行“自愿”植入。根据一项合同,罪犯将被减刑,每15年进行一次持续性观察和植入物更新,“直到死亡将他们分开。”“生命者”逐渐重新融入社会,公众开始接受它的安全性是不可侵犯的。税收被重新分配到基础设施、教育和NIP。

The NIP entered the prisons to conduct “voluntary” implants on “verified sociopaths.” The convicts received a commuted sentence under a contract for continual observation and implant renewal every 15 years, “until death do us part.” “Lifers” were reintegrated into society gradually, and the public began to accept that its safety was inviolable. Tax dollars were rerouted into infrastructure, education, and the NIP.

到2055年,这种芯片被称为“大脑起搏器”。它以6500美元的价格向普通人提供,市场上被称为“个人增强仪”。许多人因此抓住了在生活中获得成功的机会。

By 2055, the chip was coined “The Pacemaker for the Brain.” It became available to the general population at a modest fee of $6,500, marketed as “personal acceleration and augmentation.” Many jumped at the chance to get a leg up in life.

我想我可能会等下一次升级或者等保险公司来接。当时我40多岁,身体健康,对社会没有威胁,我被允许做出选择。

I took a pass thinking I might wait for the next upgrade or for insurance to pick it up. Still in my 40s at the time, in apparent good health and no threat to society, I was allowed to choose.

到2064年,40%的城市人口已经植入芯片。NIP激活了“同步链接”,将数十亿个有芯片的人“的心灵感应”连接起来,并将他们输入数据库,在那里他们可以与任何人用所有技术进行即时通信。这种芯片可以控制家用电器和车辆,在线购物,安排约会,不用一个口头命令就可以拨打911。最重要的是,日常的工作,如膳食计划,购物,考试填鸭式的可以编程到睡眠时间来执行。

By 2064, an impressive 40% of the urban population were chipped. The NIP activated the “Sync Link,” connecting billions of chipped individuals “telepathically” and keying them into the database where they could communicate instantly with any and all technology. The chipped could control home appliances and vehicles, shop online, schedule appointments, and dial 911 without a single verbal command. Best of all, mundane tasks such as meal planning, grocery shopping, and exam cramming could be programmed into sleep hours.

生活变得越来越快,不可思议地快。那些坚持反对这项新技术的人发现他们再也负担不起了。他们正在失去优势。然后是真正大规模的普及浪潮。从2064年到2068年,全世界共有超过15亿人植入了芯片。原来的时代再也回不去了

Life got faster then, much faster. The people who had held out against the new tech discovered they could no longer afford to. They were losing their edge. Then came the real push. Between 2064 and 2068, over 1.5 billion people were chipped worldwide. There was no going back.

我太老了,老到没有人会关心我。真正在挣扎的是20岁和30多岁的年轻人。他们是像我这样拒绝“同化”的人的子孙,现在,他们成了贱民。

These days, I’m too old for anyone to care much about. It’s the unchipped 20 and 30-something year olds who are really struggling. They are children and grandchildren of people like me, people who refused to “assimilate.” Now, they are pariahs.

早上6点。我起床,上厕所,煮咖啡,颤巍着坐在椅子上。上天知道我是遵守习惯的动物。我坐在窗前,看着早起的人遛狗。我看到人们的道路经常交叉,但他们的眼睛从不相遇。

6 am. I get up, use the restroom, make my coffee, and teeter to my chair. Lord knows I’m a creature of habit. I sit by my window, slightly cracked, and watch the early risers walk their dogs. I see peoples’ paths cross often, but their eyes never meet.

我记得以前人们常常在人行道上绊倒,一边走路一边用手机。现在,他们可以发送数字文件、做演讲、主持会议、预订最后一刻的航班、安排家庭维护、更新公司预算,所有这些都是边走边做的。“芯片”已经成为高效的代名词,但一个人能在我小便和煮咖啡的时间里完成的事情之多仍然让我惊讶。

I remember when people used to trip on the sidewalks trying to walk and use their cell phones simultaneously. Now, they can send digital files, give presentations, host meetings, book last minute flights, schedule home maintenance, and update the company budget, all while walking the dog. Chipped has become synonymous with efficient, but it still amazes me what a person can accomplish in the time it takes for me to piss and brew my coffee.

今天是星期天。我穿得很暖和。最近城市的空气感觉越来越稀薄和刺耳。我离开公寓,慢慢地走下十级宽的台阶。我转向沃特恩大道。大约一英里后,转入斯特恩街。这条路穿过老医院,然后深深地插入城市的肠道。那是人们生活的地方。

Today is Sunday. I dress warmly. The city air feels thinner and sharper lately. I leave my flat and walk slowly down the ten wide steps. I turn toward Wathen Ave. In about a mile, Wathen turns into Stern St. which runs right past the old hospital before cutting deep into the acidic guts of the city. That’s where the people live.

我转过最后一个街角,来到一片低洼、破败的建筑物中间的空地上。成百上千的帐篷悬挂在一片宽阔的水泥草地上。三个小孩躲在纸板箱后面,在帐篷里跑来跑去。

I round the last corner and come to a clearing amongst the low-lying, dilapidated buildings. Hundreds of tents are slung up and down a widening concrete meadow. Three small children run around ducking behind cardboard boxes and darting in and out of tents.

在这个地方的成年人显得捉襟见肘,过度劳累,生病,绝望。我在这里见过的最老的人五十多岁,他前不久去世了。这就是这个世界自由的代价。

The adults in this place appear stretched, overworked, ill, and desperate. The oldest person I have seen here was in his fifties, and he died three weeks ago yesterday. Such is the price of freedom in this world.

我来到中心那座又大又旧的军队帐篷前。在里面,我找到了一个关心人民的年轻女人。她的名字不如她头皮上的伤疤重要,14年前,一位上了年纪的神经外科医生非法取出了她的芯片。那个人是她的祖父,在他去世之前,他把他所知道的一切医学知识和人性知识都教给了她。

I reach the large, old army tent at the center. Inside, I find the young woman who cares for the people. Her name is less important than the scar on her scalp where an elderly neurosurgeon illegally removed her chip fourteen years ago. That man was her grandfather, and he taught her everything he knew of medicine and of humanity before he passed.

92岁的时候,我每个星期天步行1.5英里去看一个年龄不到我一半的女人,因为她是我唯一信任的治疗我颤抖的手的人。她治疗我是因为我是为数不多的能付她任何费用的病人之一,钱使她能够治疗病人。

At 92 years old, I walk 1.5 miles every Sunday to see a woman less than half my age, because she is the only person I trust to treat my shaking hands. She treats me because I am one of the few patients who can pay her anything, and money enables her to treat the people.

社会像是头巨大的野兽。每一个动作都产生巨大的影响。“同化”是半个世纪前一个朋友告诉我的。“要么被同化,要么在这里迷失。”现在已经太迟了。我在如蚂蚁般的人流中移动,它们在巨人的身体里觅食并拒绝。我的选择是否正确已经不重要了。

Society is a giant beast. The giant’s foot comes down. The giant’s hand closes. “Assimilate” is what a friend told me half a century ago. “Assimilate, or be lost.” It’s too late for that now. I move among the ants that scavenge the giant’s body and refuse. It no longer matters if mine was the right choice.

我想每个城市都有这样的地方:人们为自由的幻觉而生活和受苦的地方。我一直和他们并肩作战。对这些饥饿的年轻生物来说,我一定是一件古老的遗物,但战斗是我仅有的选择。

I imagine there are places like this one in every city: places where the people live and suffer for the illusion of freedom. I keep fighting alongside them. I must appear an ancient relic to these young, hungry creatures, but the fight is the only thing I have left.

脑机接口简介
Introduction to Brain-Machine Interfaces

几个世纪以来,在心理学、神经科学、康复和犯罪学等领域,大脑及其深不可测的奥秘一直吸引和困扰着科学家。从18世纪和19世纪的颅相学到当代的脑图绘制,研究人员一直试图理解和简化复杂的神经网络,即大脑。从催眠和梦的解释到认知行为治疗(CBT),心理学家一直在寻找对大脑内部工作的洞察和影响。从额叶切除术到选择性5-羟色胺再摄取抑制剂(SSRIs)再到电休克疗法(ECT),医生们一直在寻找各种方法来减轻人们无法预知的心理恐惧,抑制不必要的行为。那么,学习、理解和改善大脑功能的下一步是什么呢?

The brain and its unfathomable mysteries have captivated and perplexed scientists in the fields of psychology, neuroscience, rehabilitation, and criminology, among others, for centuries. From phrenology in the 18th and 19th centuries to contemporary brain mapping, researchers have sought to understand and simplify the complex neuronal network that is the brain. From hypnosis and dream interpretation to cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), psychologists have searched for insight and influence on the inner workings of the brain. From frontal lobe lobotomies to selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) to electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), doctors have sought ways to alleviate the unpredictable terrors of the mind and inhibit unwanted behavior. So, what is the next step to studying, understanding, and improving brain function?

脑机接口(BMIs)的概念并不新颖,它源于20世纪中叶,当时科学家用连接在灵长类动物大脑上的电极进行观察和实验(Evarts,1968)。对人类的研究始于20世纪70年代,神经科学和生物医学工程混合领域的科学家一直在向前推进。

The concept of brain-machine interfaces (BMIs) is not a novel one, with its roots stemming from the mid-20th century when scientists experimented with electrodes attached to the brains of primates for observation and experimentation (Evarts, 1968). Research with humans began in the 1970’s, and scientists in this hybrid field of neuroscience and biomedical engineering have pushed ever onward.

BMI的解释与检验
An Explanation and Examination of BMIs

脑机接口(BMIs),又称脑机接口(BCIs)和神经接口系统(NISs),分为两大类:1)用于读取和解释来自大脑的电信号的输出系统 和 2)用于刺激大脑区域以激发响应的输入系统(Hatsopoulos和Donoghue,2009)。体重指数也可以根据其位置进行分类。有些接口可以戴在颅外,而另一些则植入颅内。最近的科学研究更加强调双向和颅内脑机接口的发展,这是一项具有深远意义的技术,也是本文的重点。

Brain Machine Interfaces (BMIs), alternatively called brain-computer interfaces (BCIs) and neural interface systems (NISs), fall into one of two general purpose categories: 1) output systems used to read and interpret electrical signals from the brain and 2) input systems used to stimulate areas of the brain to elicit or enable response (Hatsopoulos & Donoghue, 2009). BMIs can also be categorized according to their placement. Some interfaces can be worn externally or extracranially while others are implanted intracranially. Recent scientific endeavors have placed more emphasis on the development of bidirectional and intracranial BMIs, a technology with far-reaching implications, and these are the primary focus of this article.

脑机接口已经被用于医疗康复,耳蜗植入物和脑深部刺激器(DBS)等辅助设备被越来越多地被用于改善特定严重限制患者的功能性生活质量。

BMIs are already used in medical rehabilitation, with assistive devices such as cochlear implants and deep brain stimulators (DBS) being used more and more often to improve functional quality of life in patients with specific, severe limitations.

更准确、可靠和多样化的脑机接口的推动引发了脑机接口设计的问题。颅内脑机接口必须是有弹性的,无害的,小而弥散的,准确的。其中两项领先技术包括神经蕾丝(一种可在皮层周围展开和覆盖的可注射网络)和神经尘埃(一种由数千个自由漂浮的传感器组成的集合,这些传感器与植入的收发器进行通信)。这些设计的主要挑战是如何使用最微创的外科技术获得最大的皮质表面积。

The push towards more accurate, reliable, and diversified BMIs approaches the question of BMI design. An intracranial BMI must be resilient, harmless, small yet diffuse, and accurate. Two of the leading technologies include neural lace, an injectable net which unfolds and drapes around the cortex, and neural dust, a collection of thousands of free-floating sensors which communicate with an implanted transceiver. The primary challenge addressed by these designs is how to access maximum cortical surface area using the most minimally invasive surgical techniques.

相关公司聚焦
Spotlight on Companies

有几家公司在这场特殊的技术竞赛中取得了长足的进步。埃隆·马斯克的Neuralink公司因马斯克高知名度和他在每个项目中的不屈不挠的雄心壮志而备受关注。马斯克似乎把发展中的“链接”视为一种具有无限潜力的技术,是保护人类物种所必需的。

There are several companies making strides in this specific technological race. Elon Musk’s Neuralink company has garnered much attention due to its high profile with Musk at its head and the unflagging ambition he channels into each of his projects. Musk appears to view the developing “Link” as an unlimited potential technology, necessary to preservation of the human species.

其他公司,如Neurable和BrainCo,正在开发可穿戴的外部bmi,以提高人们日常生活中的注意力。BrainCo开发了一种BMI头带(FocusCalm),它利用神经反馈帮助用户控制混乱的思维。

Bryan Johnson’s company, Kernel, is working on a non-invasive, external BMI which could be used to enhance cognition and memory capabilities. Like Musk, Johnson seeks to co-evolve with artificial intelligence and “embrace our own self-directed evolution.”

其他公司,如Neurable和BrainCo,正在开发可穿戴的外部bmi,以提高人们日常生活中的注意力。BrainCo开发了一种BMI头带(FocusCalm),它利用神经反馈帮助用户控制混乱的思维。

Other companies such as Neurable and BrainCo, are developing external, wearable BMIs to improve focus in the daily lives of humans. BrainCo has developed a BMI headband (FocusCalm) which uses neurofeedback to help users gain control over the chaos of the mind.

还应注意的是,美国国防高级研究计划局(DARPA)已经将合同授予了几个研究团队,其中包括布朗大学、哥伦比亚大学和Paradromics公司等,作为其神经工程系统设计(NESD)计划的一部分。研究团队专注于感觉恢复,目标是开发一种植入式BMI,使大脑和技术之间能够进行准确、高效和可靠的交流。

It should also be noted that the United States’ Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has awarded contracts to several research teams, including Brown University, Columbia University, and Paradromics Inc., to name a few, as part of their Neural Engineering Systems Design (NESD) program. The research teams are focused on sensory restoration with the goal of developing an implantable BMI which would enable accurate, efficient, and reliable communication between the brain and technology.

这些只是一些致力于神经接口的组织,大众可以期待新兴技术的出现,这将推动想象力的极限。

These are just some of the organizations working on neural interfaces, and the public can expect emerging technology that pushes the limits of the imagination.

改良vs增强
Amelioration Versus Augmentation

在2020年9月接受《纽约时报》记者卡拉·费舍尔采访时,马斯克说“从技术上讲,你可以将任何东西编程”到Neuralink中。他对自己开发的技术的潜在好处进行了理论分析,指出:

In a September 2020 interview with the New York Times’ Kara Fisher, Musk is quoted as saying that “you could technically program anything” into the Neuralink. He theorizes on the potential benefits of his developing technology stating:

“你可以让人们再次行走。你可以解决极度抑郁、焦虑、精神分裂症或癫痫。你可以让母亲回忆起自己的孩子,你知道的。基本上,如果你活得够久,你会得某种痴呆症。你会想得到一些帮助的。”

“You can make people walk again. You could solve extreme depression or anxiety or schizophrenia or seizures. You could give a mother back her memory so she could remember who her kids are, you know. Basically, if you live long enough, you’re going to get dementia of some kind. And you’ll want to have something to help you.”

在回答费舍尔的另一个问题时,马斯克提到了对精神病理学和犯罪学的影响,指出“移情可能是一个很好的”特征,可以将其编程到神经链接中。这对世界各地的刑事司法系统和犯罪率的潜在影响是相当大的,看来BMIs在犯罪康复和预防犯罪方面可以发挥未来的作用。

Responding to another query from Fisher, Musk alluded to the implications for psychopathology and criminology, stating that “empathy would probably be a good” trait to program into the neuralink. The implied impact on the criminal justice system and crime rates around the world is considerable, and it would seem that BMIs could have a future role in criminal rehabilitation and crime prevention.

马斯克更进一步地展望了一种技术状态,这种技术不仅关注于人类条件的改善,而且关注于人类经验的增强。他认为他新兴的Neuralink技术是一种手段,可以在不久的将来通过人工智能阻止人类最终不可避免的灭绝。

Musk looks even further toward a state of technology that would focus not just on amelioration of the human condition but also on augmentation of the human experience. He views his emerging Neuralink tech as a means to preclude the human species’ eventual and inevitable eclipse by artificial intelligence in a possible near-future scenario.

脑对脑交流的潜力已经讨论了好几年了,生物工程师们正朝着一个技术可以由大脑直接控制的未来热切地努力。

The potential for brain-to-brain communication has been a topic of discussion for several years, and bioengineers are working eagerly toward a future where technology can be controlled directly by the brain.

神经技术开发公司面临许多挑战,例如如何在植入期间和植入后尽量减少对脑组织的影响。另一个问题是如何在神经芯片植入后保持其完整性。植入物需要对新皮质的酸性环境有弹性,但对周围的脑组织也无害。

Industry leaders must also be prepared to ensure that patient privacy and safety are protected with each new development. This is a monumental task, as implantable tech opens up many new doors to the human brain.

影响和考虑
Implications and Considerations

科技推动人类走向未来,本世纪的科学家和幻想家正在为人类迎接未来做准备。在人工智能成为这个星球上的主导力量的可能将来中,BMI可以让人类跨越与人工智能的沟通障碍,增加我们作为一个物种的生存机会。如果做不到这一点,有人认为BMI甚至可以被武器化来保护和保护人类。

In a more palatable future scenario, it is conceivable that BMIs could enable paralyzed individuals to walk, talk and function independently. BMIs could lower cortisol levels, increase the production of serotonin and norepinephrine, and stimulate the release of endorphins for happier, healthier humans. BMIs could construct new neural pathways to bypass damaged tissue and disrupt the course of organic brain diseases such as epilepsy and degenerative diseases like dementia. This technology could also change the justice system drastically, assuming BMIs could be used to inhibit criminal impulses and program empathy and remorse into the brains of violent criminals.

但是如果没有失去的经理,没有大脑的特质,没有选择的因素,人类会发生什么呢?兰德公司(Rand Corporation)在2020年8月的一篇文章中出色地对比了BMI的潜在好处和风险,特别是从健康、道德、安全和人际关系的角度。这些问题是不能忽视的,因为社会面临着以我们的存在为中心的结构的重新概念化。

But what happens to humanity without the experience of loss, without the idiosyncrasies of the brain, without the element of choice? An August 2020 article by Rand Corporation does an excellent job of contrasting the potential benefits and risks of BMIs, particularly from the standpoints of health, ethics, security, and interpersonal relationships. These are issues that cannot be ignored as society faces the reconceptualization of constructs central to our existence.

每次跳入深水都有被水流冲走的危险。确保通向未知的每一步都是深思熟虑、平衡和透明的,这是神经技术工程师和整个科学界的责任。这项革命性的技术可以很容易地把我们扫地出门,因为它的速度越来越快。现在比以往任何时候都更重要的是,我们要抓紧时间,评估我们周围的环境,并考虑到每一个可能的变量和潜在的缺点。

Every plunge into deep water comes with the risk of being swept away in the pull of the current. It is the responsibility of the neurotechnology engineers and the scientific community at large to ensure that each step towards the unknown is deliberate, balanced, and transparent. This revolutionary technology could easily sweep us up in its current as it gathers speed. It is more important now than ever before that we hold fast, take stock of our surroundings, and account for every conceivable variable and potential drawback.

如果说希望很高,那就太轻描淡写了。希望可以说是在急剧增加。我们期望NIP能改善我们的生活质量,而且据大家所说,它已经做到了。我见过四肢瘫痪的人走路,老年痴呆症患者重新找回他们的身份。我已经看到了相当多的现代奇迹。

To say that hopes were high would be a drastic understatement. Hopes were soaring. We expected the NIP to improve the quality of our lives, and by all accounts, it has. I have seen tetraplegics walk and Alzheimer’s patients reclaim their identities. I have seen more than my fair share of modern day miracles.

我们根本不可能预见到社会的真正代价……随着坏的和丑陋的东西逐渐从我们的日常生活中消失,好的和美丽的东西也逐渐消失。不再有非营利的慈善机构为穷人服务:穷人是生活在耻辱中的无赖。假期里,疗养院不再唱颂歌了;老年人在极度衰老后在家中走向死亡。他们常常是自己结束生命的。人们不再为气候变化或任何其他原因举行集会;政府对这一切进行监督。暴力犯罪已经不多了;大多数是由神经元仍在发育中的儿童和青少年犯下的,或者是处于社会边缘的饥饿的、被忽视的无芯片人员人犯下的。

There was just no way we could have foreseen the true cost to society… that as the bad and ugly was gradually eliminated from our daily lives, so too was the good and the beautiful. No more non-profit charities for the poor: the poor are the non-chipped living in ignominy. No more carolers at the nursing home during the holidays; the elderly die at home in extreme old age, often by their own hand. No more rallies for climate change or any other cause; the government oversees it all. Not a lot of violent crime anymore; most are committed by children and teenagers whose neurons are still developing or by the starved and invisible unchipped at the margins of society.

我们不能再从我们的错误中吸取教训,不能再为一个更美好的人性而奋斗。甚至我们的人性也被神经操纵。再也没有什么能让人们团结在一起了。不是家人。不是疾病。不是死亡。我们孤独地活着,孤独地死去。

There is no more learning from our mistakes, no striving towards a better humanity. Even our humanity is neurally manipulated. Nothing brings people together anymore. Not family. Not illness. Not death. We live alone and die alone.

那些不愿意或不能同化的人被忽视,直到他们灭绝。当我在学校学到进化论的时候,我做梦也没想到我会选择那些不太适合生存的物种,然而我现在却恰恰身处其中。

Those who are unwilling or unable to assimilate are ignored until they dwindle to extinction. When I learned about evolution in school, I never dreamed that I would choose the species less fit to survive, and yet here I am.

翻译/审校:STARSET_Mirror翻译组

STARSET_Mirror

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