Biohacker Bryan Johnson is on a mission to connect the human mind directly to an artificial intelligence
And the first step on this journey, he says is a $50,000 [about £35,000] helmet that can read brain activity to an unprecedented degree.
While the technology utilised by Johnson’s mind-reading startup, Kernel, existed before in huge medical research machines, the lightweight helmets he’s developed enable researchers to study the brain while it’s active.
In the early days of his research, Johnson entered into discussion with SpaceX boss Elon Musk, whose Neuralink project aims to implant electrodes directly into the human brain.
But Johnson abandoned implants in favour of two experimental helmets; one codenamed Flow and the other Flux.
The Flow helmet uses laser light to measure the precise oxygenation of blood deep within the brain, while Fllux records the electrical impulse of neurons firing.
Together, he believes they could provide an exact picture of what’s going on inside a human brain.
While the current generation of his technology is too expensive for all but the most dedicated researchers, Johnson says that by 2030 he expects to be making sensor helmets that are no more expensive than a smartphone.
"To make progress on all the fronts that we need to as a society, we have to bring the brain online," he told business magazine Bloomberg.
"We are the first generation in the history of Homo sapiens who could look out over our lifetimes and imagine evolving into an entirely novel form of conscious existence," he added.
"The things I am doing can create a bridge for humans to use where our technology will become part of our self."
So far he has spent about $110 million (£78m) – half of it his own money – to develop the helmets.
"The usual Silicon Valley people and investors would not even talk to us," he complained.
"It became clear that we would have to spend the time, and I would have to spend the money, to show people something and demonstrate it working."
Johnson may have a bit more time than most entrepreneurs. The 43-year-old pursues a complex health regimen which, he says, has given him the body of a man ten years younger.
Alongside a rigorous diet it involves snorting his own stem cells, and regularly being dosed with psychedelic drugs such as ketamine or psilocybin.
His strict diet, he says, along with the mind-reading helmets, is all part of a quest to become something "more than human".
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