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My Work

The Rabbit Hole, Volume Two

Challenge 47

Challenge 45

Brain-Machine Interface

by Dennis M. Myers, 10/19/2019

A cochlear implant is a surgically implanted device that provides a sense of sound to a person with moderate to profound hearing loss. Cochlear implants bypass the normal hearing process, instead replacing it with electric signals which directly stimulate the auditory nerve. With training the brain may learn to interpret those signals as sound and speech. Author Teresa Frohock, a friend of mine, has one. She hears differently than we do, but she does hear, which is a good thing. It means that when I tell her that I love her writing, she can understand what I am saying.

Back in about 1980 the first IBM PC came out. It had a tiny green screen monitor, and graphics that were absolutely primitive by today's standards. It had less computing capacity than today's basic microwave oven. Yet it fundamentally changed the world. Today's computers are vastly better in every way.

I see the groundbreaking work of things like the cochlear implant as being at about the same level as that old PC. It's rudimentary now, but in the future, as the technology develops, and as we better understand the brain-machine interface, future implants will be able to give us true fidelity hearing, and even more.

In my stories I have something called the Communications Controller. This is a small device that sits at the junction of the auditory nerves and provides full hearing integration. Coupled with a low powered (think Bluetooth) connection to the local network, this allows direct communication between people and the system running the show.

Yes, I know. Somewhere has to be a microphone or some kind of pickup. I just now realized I've never mentioned it. If I get the chance I'll add it into the story.