Im what some people call a neurogeek, passionate about everything related to our brains, from the way they shape our behavior to the way they interact with technology.
Most of you readers probably assume that people like me belong to the scientific and the medical worldsthat we live, eat, breathe, sleep and operate in hospitals and research labs, isolated from the business world. And certainly theres plenty for us to do there, given the societal impact of brain health. According to the Society for Neuroscience, the Kavli Foundation and the Gatsby charitable foundation , the cost to the global economy of neurological and mental-health disorders such as dementia and Alzheimers disease, including healthcare expenses, loss of productivity in the workplace and impact on families, reached $2.5 trillion in 2010, and could reach $6 trillion by 2030. By then, the economic burden of brain health will be higher than those of cancer, diabetes and respiratory conditions combined .
But neuroscience and neurotechnologies matter far beyond their scientific and medical applications. We are not just our brains, of course. We interact with physical, digital and social worlds that are in turn impacted by how well our brains function, from performance at the workplace to personal relations. That fundamental truth has opened a wealth of interest in neuroscience, in leadership sectors far beyond medicine. Ill illustrate where that interest comes from, and why, in essays I call Your Brain On Business.
The military offers just one example. In 2014, President Obama only half-jokingly announced that the U.S. government was building Iron Man , in the form of a "smart armor" known as TALOS. Soldiers of the very near future will be equipped with brain-computer interfaces allowing them to simultaneously control armor-like exoskeletons and rely on powerful databases, enabling them to be stronger, faster, and more resistant while making optimal decisions.
Science fiction? Ask the hundreds of millions of TV viewers who, that same year, witnessed a paraplegic man kicking off the Soccer FIFA World Cup in Brazil , moving the ball with help from his mind-controlled robotic exoskeleton. For me and a lot of the kids who grew up reading superhero comics, this was one of the coolest things ever. And even if we were far from Iron Man territorythe kick was gentle and slow, the equipment bulkyin the public eye, the neurotech revolution had started. And heres a sign of how quickly things move in neuroscience: Earlier this year, another paraplegic man, Rodrigo Hbner Mendes, became the first person to drive a race car solely with his mind .
Some might even argue that mind controlled driving is not as impressive as making paralyzed people move their limbssince for neuroscientists, controlling objects thanks to cutting-edge brain-computer interfaces has become quite common. What is noteworthy in Hbner Mendes driving performance is that the device he employed to control the race car a portable and wireless wearable headset monitoring brainwaves manufactured by Emotiv, a San Francisco-based company that I advisecan be ordered online for the price of an X-Box console.
In fact, its already being used by thousands of gamers to move their avatars in virtual worlds with their mind, freeing their hands to shoot monsters. Others use the headset to monitor their sleep or meditate. The automotive industry is using it to monitor the level of attention of drivers and have cars stop automatically or sound an alarm when the drivers start falling asleep. It is being used in other sectors where attention to information is a life-and-death matter, by airline traffic controllers and nuclear plant operators. What was science fiction not so long ago is now just a couple of clicks away from everyones mailbox.
And yes, this is a big business. For devices alone, Neurotech Report projected a $7.6 billion market in 2016 that could reach $12 billion by 2020. And todays hardware market is just the tip of the iceberg, as illustrated by an analysis of more than 10,000 IP filings worldwide by market research firm SharpBrains, in a report to which I contributed . The overall financial impact of such neurotechnologies is tremendous. Overall, if you include the medical uses of neurotech, other devices, and all the businesses that can benefit from brain-related technologies, this is a field that's generating well over $150 billion in revenues annually.
I hope youre beginning to understand why my life as a neurogeek does not consist of being locked in my research lab 24/7. Over the past 15 years, I have helped scores of partners apply neuroscience to improve their efforts, working with public authorities to improve preventive medicine campaigns , with health-care providers to better understand the behavior of caregivers and patients, and with the retail industry to assess the gap between what consumers say and what they really do while shopping . Ive used neuroscience to improve safety measures in transportation, even in nuclear plants, and helped banks train their staff to deal better with stress and improve decision-making processes while trading. Ive been able to do all of this thanks to insights from behavioral and brain sciences and portable neurotech that allows to collect on-site data. I guess Im a neurogeek with a strong business twist.
And Im far from the only person thinking this way. The true revolution has just begun. In just the last few weeks, Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg revealed that, in their own way, each is investing time, effort, and significant money to improve our lives with neurotechnologies.
Musk, the CEO of Tesla, announced that he is launching Neuralink , a company "developing ultra high bandwidth brain-machine interfaces." This new breed of neurotechnology will allow the merging of the human brain with the power of machines in order empower humans to keep up with artificial intelligence. We are not only talking about being able to beat computers at chess again but to boost our information processing and creativity--to accelerate medical discoveries that cure cancers, for example. And at F8, the developer conference for Facebook, the company shared that its working on scalable neurotech that will allow silent brain-to-brain communication .
When one man who has disrupted the energy, automotive and space industries, and another who connected nearly 2 billion individuals in the same social network, make major moves in neuroscience, somehow it feels like science fiction is evolving into history, and that our lives are about to change in unprecedented ways.
Olivier Oullier ( @emorationality ), PhD, is a neuroscientist and a strategist.
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- NextMind Unveils World's First Brain-Sensing Wearable That Delivers Real-Time Device Control With Just Your Thoughts - Business Wire - November 23rd, 2019
- Neurotechnology and the Future of Hope - Robotics Tomorrow (press release) - August 25th, 2017
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- Technology Key to Fighting Neurological Disease - R & D Magazine - August 25th, 2017
- Could this back-pain device end need for opioids? - The Columbus Dispatch - August 20th, 2017
- In the Future, Humans Will Use Brain to Brain Communication and Download Their Memories If Elon Musk Has His Way - Newsweek - August 14th, 2017
- Open-source Morpheo Platform to Use Artificial Intelligence to Help Diagnose Sleep Disorders - Sleep Review - August 8th, 2017
- Stryker Exceeded Analysts' Sales Estimates in 2Q17 - Market Realist - August 2nd, 2017
- Elon Musk talks of his life's 'highs' and 'lows' in a few painfully honest tweets - Mashable - July 31st, 2017
- Team Neurotechnology Innovations Translator - July 30th, 2017
- Stryker Corporation (NYSE:SYK) and Uroplasty (UPI) Financial Survey - Stock Observer - July 29th, 2017
- Tufts Hosts Engineering Conference - Tufts Now - July 28th, 2017
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- Arshya Vahabzadeh: Innovating at the Intersection of Brain, Behavior, and Technology - HuffPost - July 27th, 2017
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- fMRI, EEG Tests May Detect Consciousness in Severe TBI Patients - PsychCentral.com - July 24th, 2017
- BRAIN center gathers to ponder future, direction - Arizona State University - July 20th, 2017
- Preserving the Right to Cognitive Liberty - Scientific American - July 19th, 2017
- Comparing Uroplasty (UPI) and Stryker Corporation (NYSE:SYK) - The Cerbat Gem - July 18th, 2017
- Insider Activity Stryker Corporation (NYSE:SYK) - Highlight Press - July 15th, 2017
- Neurotechnology: 5 braincomputer interface innovations - Red Bull - Red Bull - July 12th, 2017
- DARPA invests further in neurotechnology - SD Times - SDTimes.com - July 11th, 2017
- Infinitely Flexible 3D Printing with Ultrasonic Manipulation? - ENGINEERING.com - July 11th, 2017
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- What is NIT? Neurotechnology Innovations Translator - July 5th, 2017
- Mind-blowing ultrasonic 'printer' uses lasers and high-frequency sound to assemble electronics - Digital Trends - July 1st, 2017
- Neurotechnology Explains Ultrasonic Manipulation in 3D Printing - 3DPrint.com - June 30th, 2017
- Neurotechnology Develops 3D Printing Method with Non-Contact Ultrasonic Manipulation Technology - 3DPrint.com - June 26th, 2017
- Neurotechnology makes a number of updates to the MegaMatcher product line - Biometric Update - June 23rd, 2017
- Neurotechnology adds face recognition, tracking to video surveillance systems; researchers win competition - Biometric Update - June 23rd, 2017
- SentiVeillance Server - Face Recognition and Analytics to Video Management Systems - Officer.com (press release) (registration) (blog) - June 22nd, 2017
- Brain data, neurotechnology and education | code acts in ... - June 21st, 2017
- Neurotechnology Announces SentiVeillance Server Facial Recognition Solution - findBIOMETRICS - June 21st, 2017
- New SentiVeillance Server from Neurotechnology Adds Face Recognition and Analytics to Video Management Systems - PR Newswire (press release) - June 19th, 2017
- Accuray (ARAY) versus Stryker Corporation (SYK) Head-To-Head Review - The Cerbat Gem - June 17th, 2017
- Helping or Hacking? Engineers, Ethicists Must Work Together on Brain-Computer Interface Technology - Government Technology - June 15th, 2017
- Neurotechnology Researchers Win Kaggle Competition with Deep Neural Network Solution for The Nature ... - PR Newswire (press release) - June 15th, 2017
- Neurotechnology Wins Fisheries-Focused Computer Vision ... - findBIOMETRICS - June 15th, 2017
- A Hardware Update for the Human Brain - HardOCP - June 15th, 2017
- Neurotechnology Releases MegaMatcher Accelerator Extreme, the Fastest Biometric Engine in the World - PR Newswire (press release) - June 14th, 2017
- Helping or hacking? Engineers and ethicists must work together on brain-computer interface technology - San Francisco Chronicle - June 14th, 2017
- Favorable Press Coverage Very Likely to Affect Stryker Corporation (SYK) Stock Price - Sports Perspectives - June 14th, 2017
- Neurotechnology Announces MegaMatcher Accelerator Extreme - findBIOMETRICS - June 12th, 2017
- Head to Head Analysis: Accuray (ARAY) and Stryker Corporation (SYK) - Sports Perspectives - June 12th, 2017
- Welch Capital Partners Increased By $3.59 Million Its Eqt (EQT) Position, Stryker (SYK) Sellers Decreased By 3.59 ... - UtahHerald.com - June 10th, 2017
- Comparing Accuray (ARAY) & Stryker (SYK) - The Cerbat Gem - June 9th, 2017
- Shoosmiths advises PD Neurotechnology on 1.34m (EUR) investment - Shoosmiths legal updates (press release) - June 7th, 2017
- Shoosmiths advises PD Neurotechnology on 1.34m investment - Scottish Legal News - June 7th, 2017
- Stryker (SYK) Earning Somewhat Favorable Media Coverage, Report Finds - Chaffey Breeze - June 5th, 2017
- Stryker (SYK) Receives Media Impact Score of 0.15 - Chaffey Breeze - June 3rd, 2017
- Scientists remotely move a mouse's whiskers with electrodes outside its brain - The Verge - June 1st, 2017
- The tiny cyborg dragonfly drones have taken flight - Mashable - June 1st, 2017
- Somewhat Positive Press Coverage Likely to Impact Stryker (SYK) Stock Price - The Cerbat Gem - June 1st, 2017
- Stryker (SYK) Getting Positive News Coverage, Study Shows - Chaffey Breeze - May 28th, 2017
- $20000 ONtrepreneurs Pitch Challenge Winner Announced - Canada NewsWire (press release) - May 23rd, 2017
- FAQ Neurotechnology Innovations Translator - May 13th, 2017
- Rythm Accelerates Sleep Research and Neurotechnology Efforts With a Prestigious Scientific Advisory Board and ... - PR Newswire (press release) - May 13th, 2017
- Freedom of the mind under threat with new technology - BioEdge - May 8th, 2017
- Do We Have a Right to Mental Privacy and Cognitive Liberty? - Scientific American (blog) - May 4th, 2017
- Future tech could jeopardise 'freedom of mind': experts - Outlook India - Outlook India - May 2nd, 2017
- Future tech could jeopardise 'freedom of mind', say experts - Daily News & Analysis - April 30th, 2017
- Will your computer delete your thoughts? - TRUNEWS - April 28th, 2017
- Researchers advocate neurorights to protect brain data - The Stack - April 28th, 2017
- Download - Neurotechnology - April 27th, 2017
- Rise of Neurotechnology: Defend Against Brain Hackers Before It's Too Late - Sputnik International - April 27th, 2017
- A new category of human rights: neurorights - BMC Blogs Network (blog) - April 27th, 2017
- In a neuro-techno future, human rights laws will need to be revisited - Science Daily - April 27th, 2017
- New computers could delete thoughts without your knowledge ... - The Independent - April 27th, 2017
- Stryker Co. Announces Quarterly Dividend of $0.43 (SYK) - The Cerbat Gem - April 25th, 2017
- PTSD Symptoms May Be Eased by Non-Invasive Neurotechnology - Psychiatry Advisor - April 25th, 2017
- Academia, Industry Collaborate on Solutions to Neural Disease, Injury - Texas Medical Center (press release) - April 25th, 2017
- Reduction of Post -Traumatic Stress Symptoms Associated with Non-Invasive Neurotechnology - Newswise (press release) - April 19th, 2017
- Academia, industry collaborate on solutions to neural disease, injury - Medical Xpress - April 19th, 2017
- Analyst Activity Jefferies Group LLC Reiterates Hold on Stryker (NYSE:SYK) - Market Exclusive - April 15th, 2017
- Brain, the last frontier! - Huffington Post - April 12th, 2017
- Synchron Inc. Secures $10 Million in Series A Financing Round - PR Newswire (press release) - April 7th, 2017
- Elon Musk Wants to Merge Man and MachineHere's What He'll ... - Observer - April 3rd, 2017
- How Neurotechnology Is Helping The San Francisco Giants Train Better - PSFK (subscription) - April 3rd, 2017