DARPA is one of those organizations that convert sci-fi ideas into reality. Recently, they hosted a robotics challenge to allow robot developers to compete against each other and create the very best examples of humanoid robots that can one day, not only make our lives easier but also save them as well. Robotics is not their only field of interest, as DARPA is also working on ventures to make the battlefield safer for troops. You may have read of the Iron Man suit that will protect soldiers with its advanced armor, but DARPA is working on something that sounds even more unreal than a superhero suit.
The RAM (Restoring Active Memory) project is one of the most innovative, as well as life altering projects that DARPA is working on. The people at DARPA want to create a brain implant for soldiers that will recover their memories in the case of serious head injury. The idea is to install the implant onto the soldier’s brain early on to record memories as they happen. In case of any serious injury to the head or brain which can cause memory loss, the memories can be recovered from the chip like a system restore.
Currently DARPA is working with companies that have experience working with brain implants. One of these is Medtronic, which has been working on people affected by Parkinson’s by treating them via electric signals sent to the brain. The task at hand is not an easy one and requires a lot more time before it can come close to reality. The first step involved will require an understanding of the signals sent to the brain that make memories.
Scientists have just recently discovered how to study these signals and where they come from. Currently, we know that memory formation starts with mRNA proteins that cause neurons to join, resulting in connections that create memories. The implant that DARPA plans on creating will have to differentiate between signals, interpret them, record the whole process and play back the connections.
Once this technology becomes real, it will change our lives. People could just “learn” any new skill or piece of information by downloading it from a database directly into their brains. The technology could also be helpful in the field of medicine where patients with memory loss are dealt with (such as Alzheimer’s), and improve their lives. The future in this field is pretty exciting, Isn’t it?