Chip in your head
The news that a paralyzed man sends e-mail using a chip installed in his brain has received a lot of attention, mainly because he was able to do so with a 100 pin chip embedded in his cerebral cortex:
A pill-sized brain chip has allowed a quadriplegic man to check e-mail and play computer games using his thoughts. The device can tap into a hundred neurons at a time, and is the most sophisticated such implant tested in humans so far.
The company that developed the chip, Cyberkinetics, make all kinds of disclaimers on their site, but the fact remains that some of the activities that they intend to regulate are depression and epilepsy.
Now, we know that epilepsy is not frequent, and therefore its market is not as big. Although a great potential for the most extreme cases, there is technology around that uses implants and biofeedback in order to control seizures.
The most interesting, from an investor perspective, is the possibility to control depression: one of the biggest markets here in the USA is the one for drugs for control and amelioration of the symptoms of depression, starting with Prozac and following with all those other drugs.
Now, imagine the amounts of money lost to depression and ADD each year, for businesses and employees alike. Not everybody is willing to put up with drugs all the time, and in some cases it might be even preferable to have other options. Right? OS, in the same universe where women get boob implants just to look good, cut their toes to use their Blahniks, and inject toxic bacteria in their foreheads to appear younger, it stands to reason that a simple brain surgery to be in a chirpy and happy mood all the time is within the parameters of the feasible.
Not happening? Just wait five years then, until one day your chronically depressed coworker, that one that was completely un-promoteable, is suddenly the darling of top management because of their shiny mood and eager disposition. Sure, he or she got their chip thorough an experimental agreement, but their paycheck is going to be all too real to all others indirectly involved. Chip envy will settle in, and it will be a simple procedure to have your own brain enhancement procedure. If not in this country, because president Ashcroft won’t allow messing with our heads, then in China or Japan or Israel.
And then we all will be sporting a chip or other in our heads. A chip that says “Chiba City”.