The scientists at the military's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) are planning an ambitious project that could one day yield technologically-enhanced super soldiers.
The project, called Neural Engineering System Design, involves a tiny, human-implantable device that can send and receive data quickly between the brain and electronics.
"The interface would serve as a translator, converting between the electrochemical language used by neurons in the brain and the ones and zeros that constitute the language of information technology," the agency wrote in a release.
One potential application the agency floated was a device that could compensate for deficits in sight or hearing.
You can think of it kind of like a WiFi router for your brain. With NESD, the idea is to have the brain connect with a computer or other device, which could allow faster access to information — no need to look at a screen when it's sent right to your brain — or to control things with the mind.
"Today’s best brain-computer interface systems are like two supercomputers trying to talk to each other using an old 300-baud modem," Phillip Alvelda, the NESD program manager, said in a statement. "Imagine what will become possible when we upgrade our tools to really open the channel between the human brain and modern electronics."
Hello, military cyborgs.
The program is a bit far off, since it still has to go through its proposers' day later this month, when DARPA's biological technologies office will present the program's vision, goals, and research on the topic to organizations and others who may submit for potential contracts.
The agency anticipates investing up to $60 million over four years.
DARPA isn't just focused on the military for this kind of technology. Much of what the agency has helped build in the past, such as global positioning systems and the internet, eventually migrated onto the civilian market.
In December, Tech Insider wrote about the potential future that would include cyborg technology.
"Imagine a world where you could just use your thoughts to control your environment," Dr. Justin Sanchez, a neuroscientist and program manager in DARPA’s Biological Technologies Office, said of what he thinks could be reality in 30 years. "Think about controlling different aspects of your home just using your brain signals, or maybe communicating with your friends and your family just using neural activity from your brain."