In a futuristic article, Fortune discusses the way research in to reading and interpreting brainwave activity, has lead to conclusive initial experiences that allow the brain to replace the mouse for basic functions.
Science Fiction Novels have often given us images of a future with voice controlled and complex computer systems providing valuable services and functions. Fewer have portrayed humans interfaced with computers via brainwave patterns alone. It is true that the thought of having to have a chip implanted in your brain to do so is a pretty scary thought. The idea that such an interface could be accessed by computers other than the one(s) intended, chills you to the bone. The mere notion of a virus capable of creating havoc with a human brain through such an interface is a nightmare.
But the advantages that can be gained, as well as less obtrusive methods that are appearing without the need for implants is fascinating:
Last year, Sony took out a patent on a game system that beams data directly into the mind without implants. It uses a pulsed ultrasonic signal that induces sensory experiences such as smells, sounds and images.
There are also far more useful examples in the article where quadriplegic patients can communicate via such systems and a chip that could be able to "process thoughts as fast as speech - 110 to 170 words per minute - by 2012".
"Stu Wolf, one of the top scientists at Darpa", describes the mind enabled systems like these : "network-enabled telepathy" which is disturbingly close to the storyline of the film 'Matrix'.
Let's hope that the top scientists and researchers alike provide us with safe and useful devices that will make our lives easier and secure.
A related article at the washingtonpost.com explains how "scientists at Stanford University hope to allow patients one day to complete actions without even having to think about the action itself."
This obviously all sounds beneficial on the whole and far better than the reports that have been published about how cell phones affect the brain.