MILESTONES IN MENTAL AUGMENTATION

(side-bar to article in New Scientist, Stepping Out - The Mind Unbounded, February 16, 2010)

1780
Luigi Galvani demonstrates a connection between nerves, muscles and electricity by animating frog legs with electricity applied to nerves leading to muscles, thus hinting at how the internal workings of a mind could be coupled to external artificial devices.
1906
Ramon Cajal and Camillo Golgi receive Nobel Prize for developing nerve staining methods and elucidating the detailed structure of the cerebrum and cerebellum, so providing a rough roadmap for later intervention.
1929
Hans Berger invents the electroencephalogram (EEG) for recording electrical activity in the human brain: a first crude, one-way channel into the functioning of the mind.
1952
James Watson and Francis Crick determine the structure of DNA and its mode of replications, and suggest its role as the control code for biological growth, so laying the foundation for molecular biology, and eventually the engineering of biological structures, including neural assemblies for electronic interfaces.
1953
Wilder Penfield produces maps of the cortex by means of electrical probes of its surface during brain surgery--evoking specific memories, sensations and motor responses by stimulating specific locations, thus establishing the geographic nature of mental organization, and incidentally providing the first examples of artificial interaction with the internal workings of the mind.
1959
Robert Noyce and Jack Kirby invent the integrated circuit, a way of placing many electronic components on a single piece of crystal, initiating at least a half century of exponential growth in electronic complexity, the creation of mind-like machines, and eventually the merger of biological and artificial minds.
1960
Frank Rosenblatt develops and reports on learning experiments with the Perceptron, an artificial neural net: a way of organizing electronic components in a structure that anatomically and functionally matches the organization of biological brains.
1967
George Brindley and William Lewin implant an electrode array into the visual cortex of a congenitally blind subject, and generate visual phosphenes (spots) by camera-controlled computer activation of this array, restoring some sight to a nerve-blind volunteer, and providing an early major demonstration of a computer-nervous system symbiosis.
1969
Dexter Wyckoff and Rajiv Kamar demonstrate the neural comb, a low-noise, high-bandwidth external channel to the nervous system, providing for the first time potentially total external access to higher mental functions.
1971
Wyckoff, Kamar and Fred Wright use a neural comb with a PDP-10 computer to enable a squirrel monkey to play chess and to read, an early example of mental augmentation by electronic means.
1974
Walter House and Janet Urban install a cochlear implant driven by an external computer, restoring partial hearing to a nerve-deaf patient, and creating a successful medical niche for electronic substitution of lost sensory functions.
1982
William DeVries installs first permanent artificial heart implanted in a human subject, causing a major shift in the public perception of the relation of "natural" biological functions to "artificial" mechanical devices.
1987
Josephine Bogart and Paul Vogels install a neural comb in the corpus callosum of an epileptic patient, and program an external computer to interrupt seizures: the first human application of a neural comb.
1991
Carver Meade develops an artificial retina, integrating tens of thousands of artificial neurons on an integrated circuit, developing some of the analog techniques used in the electronic portions of future "neurochips."
1994
Ushio Kawabata develops a successful predictive model of human cortical behavior building on Edelman's "neural darwinism" formulation, an essential step in providing the engineering environment used to design the neural structures grown by neurochip viruses.
1997
Ushio Kawabata and Chickie Levitt develop an information-efficient method of deriving functional neural anatomy from dense observations of nerve signals, so laying the foundation for the mental mapping process used to adapt a neurochip to its host.
2000
Chickie Levitt and Toshi Okada develop a genetic design for a neural interface between the human callosum and a data transmission integrated circuit. This design is encoded into RNA viruses which are part of neurochip implants, and act by infecting nearby neural tissue, so causing the growth of connective and data-compressing neuron structures that connect the electronic portion of the neurochip with the brain.
2003
Chickie Levitt combines previous electronic, genetic and neural innovations to produce the first complete, functional, self-connecting neurochip.
2005
The first experiment with neurochips is partial success. A neurochip-augmented chimpanzee demonstrates an equivalent human IQ of 190 for two months, before dying of a brain tumor.