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Our expert voices conversation on "When computers merge with our minds."

When we're awake, the 100 billion intricately connected neurons in our brain are entirely active, receiving, analyzing, and responding to the inputs we're collecting from the world. The idea then of inserting a machine into that complexity in order to enhance or suppress behavior comes with many challenges.

Problem to be solved: How do we pick a target? The brain is a mesh of multiple networks associated with different functions, so you can actually cause impulsivity or depression in patients with Parkinson's because stimulating one network means you can accidentally activate another. Some conditions, like depression, have several possible targets within the brain. Which of the many candidates should be stimulated — and how?

Where to draw the line: Research has shown that stimulating certain brain areas increases memory capabilities and improves learning. Treating disease serves the public — but enhancing our cognitive abilities runs the risk of only serving some. If we could design a brain chip to enhance memory, how would we price it and keep a level playing field?

The other voices in the conversation:

Go deeper

Live list: The "Facebook Papers" arrive

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Reports based on leaked whistleblower documents from Facebook, known as the Facebook Papers, appeared in a broad range of news outlets Monday, shedding light on what company knew about harms caused on its platform and how it handled that information.

Why it matters: The reports paint a detailed picture of Facebook's efforts over the years to grapple with major problems — from hate speech to inciting violence — while continuing to pursue its business objectives.

U.S. will now allow private citizens to sponsor Afghan refugees

A family boards a bus at the airport that will take them to a refugee processing center after being evacuated from Kabul. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Americans wanting to help vulnerable Afghan refugees now have a new way to get involved through a new U.S. private refugee sponsorship program announced Monday.

  • Groups of at least 5 adults can apply, complete background checks and start fundraising the $2,275 per refugee required.

Why it matters: It’s a big shift in the U.S refugee process, which has long relied on non-profits.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
57 mins ago - Energy & Environment

What we’re watching during the final countdown to COP26

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

This is shaping up as a critical week for climate policy in the U.S. and worldwide.

Driving the news: Democrats are in the final stages of trying to craft the big social spending and climate package they're trying to move on a thread-the-needle party-line vote.