Implanting a microchip into your brain to unlock its full potential may sound like the plot from the latest science fiction blockbuster.
But the futuristic technology could become a reality within 15 years, according to Bryan Johnson, an expert working on such a device.
The chips will allow people to buy and delete memories, and will soon be as popular as smartphones, Mr Johnson claims.
Speaking at Web Summit in Lisbon this week, Mr Johnson, who is the founder of Kernel, a start-up developing brain microchips, said that unlocking the potential of the mind is the ‘single greatest thing’ humanity can achieve.
He said: ‘I would expect in around 15-20 years we will have a sufficiently robust set of tools for the brain that we could pose any question we wanted.
‘For example, could I have a perfect memory? Could I delete my memories? Could I increase my rate of learning, could I have brain to brain communication?
‘Imagine a scenario where I say “I want to know what it’s like to be a cowboy in the American west in the 1800s?” and someone creates that experience mentally.
‘I’m able to take that and purchase that from that person and experience that.’
While you might think that such a device would be reserved for the rich, Mr Johnson believes that microchips will become ‘democratised, like smartphones.’
He said: ‘The bigger question on this is: “Is working on this a luxury or a necessity?”
‘I don’t understand what we are so scared of losing?
‘I don’t know why it would not be the singular focus of the human race because everything we do stems from our brain.’
Kernel is currently working on prototypes of a brain implant device for medical use in humans.
The firm has started to conduct tests with epilepsy patients in hospitals.
Speaking to IEEE Spectrum, Dr Berger said: ‘We’re testing it in humans now, and getting good initial results.
‘We’re going to go forward with the goal of commercialising this prosthesis.’
But before being developed for healthy people, the firm hopes that the device will be used to improve memory in people with degenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s.
Speaking to New Scientist, Mr Johnson said: ‘The idea is that if you have loss of memory function, then you could build a prosthetic for the hippocampus that would help restore the circuitry, and restore memory.
‘The first super-humans are those who have deficits to start with.’