Originally published March 7, 2014
In June of this year, the World Cup in Brazil will begin not with a flashy musical number or a team of flying acrobats but with a simple scientific demonstration. A paralyzed teenager will make the ceremonial first kick. This feat will be accomplished through an “exoskeleton” directly controlled by the teenager’s thoughts and read through a helmet-mounted EEG machine. That kick, guided by an extraordinary brain-to-machine interface, may be our initiation into our post-human future. In that brave new world our memories will be recorded and swapped like old videotapes, self-aware robots will be our companions, and our consciousness, downloaded onto machines, will live forever. It’s a future Michio Kaku, the string theorist turned popular scientist, believes is inevitable and closer than we think.