Book review: Beyond Boundaries: The New Neuroscience of Connecting Brains with Machines and How It Will Change Our Lives, by Miguel Nicolelis.
This book presents some ambitious visions of how our lives will be changed by brain-machine and brain to brain (“mind meld”) interfaces, along with some good reasons to hope that we will adapt well to them and think of machines and other people as if they are parts of our body. Many people will have trouble accepting his broad notion of personal identity, but I doubt they will find good arguments against it.
But I wish I’d skipped most of the first half, which focuses on the history of neuroscience research, with too much attention to debates over the extent to which brain functions are decentralized.
He’s disappointingly vague about the obstacles that researchers face. He hints at problems with how safe and durable an interface can be, but doesn’t tell us how serious they are, whether progress is being made on them, etc. I also wanted more specific data about how much information could be communicated each way, how precisely robotic positioning can be controlled, and how much of a trend there is toward improving those.