This recent Article highlights the progress made in brain science, our focus on solving grand world challenges, and the critical need to continue this advancement. The article describes how a paralyzed man using only his brain signals was able to operate, maneuver, and walk in a whole-body robotic exoskeleton. This press release provides more details. The findings could advance efforts to help paralyzed patients drive computers using brain signals alone; “perhaps starting with driving wheelchairs using brain activity instead of joysticks and progressing to developing an exoskeleton for increased mobility,” says Stephan Chabardes, neurosurgeon from the CHU of Grenoble-Alpes, France.
This focus and progress amplifies concerns that we are at a critical crossroad: enabling the green path of our subway map, while mitigating the risk of the red path. As more voices emerge to slow the path of innovation with a focus on avoiding the red path – thereby mitigating the risk of unintended consequences – we must not lose sight of the advancements that enable the green path. As I discuss in my post on Mapping the Path of Innovation, this subway diagram focuses on two paths: one that enhances human development (green), and one that diminishes it (red). The station stops are the major innovations likely to have the biggest impact in either direction – but we could add several other stations based on the number of Building Blocks available to society.
Our challenge is therefore clear: human action in the next several decades will shape our future – or it will shape itself. What are the Catalysts that help drive those actions?