The Brain Hacker
For about as long as there have been computers, there have been people trying to figure out a way to control them with our minds. Throughout history, humans have had a knack for taking things further and further eventually to a point of no return. Phil Kennedy is the name of a famous neurologist, yet one you’ve likely still never heard of. Throughout the 1990’s, Phil was at the forefront of neuroscience. There is a quote that says “You can’t grow until you get out of your comfort zone.” Phil Kennedy is a prime example. Next thing he knew, he was looking at his shaved head in the mirror, in an 13 room hospital in Belize. He needed to tap into a healthy human brain even if it meant that he would have to use his own.
We’ll start our story in 1963 when neurology began making waves. A scientist at Oxford University figured out how to use human brain waves to control a simple slide projector. And shortly thereafter, a Spanish neuroscientist named José Delgado stole the headlines with a grand demonstration at a bullring in Córdoba, Spain. Delgado had invented a device he called a stimoceiver — a radio-controlled brain implant that could pick up neural signals and deliver tiny shocks to a bull’s cortex. When Delgado stepped into the ring, he flashed a red cape to provoke the bull, and according to plan, the bull charged. It was getting closer and closer until Delgado finally pressed two buttons on his radio transmitter: The first triggered the bull’s caudate nucleus and slowed the animal to a halt; the second made it turn and trot right off toward a wall.
So, bulls have been conquered, now what? Naturally Delgado dreamed of using his electrodes to next tap into humans. to read their thoughts, edit them, and most importantly, improve them. In 1970, after trying out his implants on mentally ill human subjects, he is quoted saying: “The human race is at an evolutionary turning point. We’re very close to having the power to construct our own mental functions. The question is, what sort of humans would we like, ideally, to construct?” Not surprisingly, Delgado’s work made a lot of people nervous. In the years that followed, his program was clouded by controversy, quickly fading, revoked of outside funding, and generally halted by the complexities of the brain. Which to Delgado’s dismay…