Paralyzed Man Walks in Brain-Controlled Exoskeleton


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. Paralyzed Man WalksThis 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.

Purpose versus Unintended Consequences
Click to Enlarge

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?

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