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

Our ability to remember and reason is fundamentally limited by our wetware so the idea of punching through that barrier by expanding our brain with hardware is very appealing. It's possible to read out brain signals using electrodes or imaging and write brain signals through electrical or optical stimulation. A skeptic might correctly point out that there's still much to discover about how the brain works, and then conclude it a fool's errand to hook it up to a machine. However, progress cannot be made without attempt. Research in brain machine interfaces will help us glean insights on brain function and improve the understanding necessary to make brain hardware succeed.

The payoff is high: Imagine, for example, being able to interact with the sum of human knowledge with the same flexibility and ease of revisiting our memories. On the other hand, the challenges are legion, not the least of which is the brain interface itself: current models lack the necessary bandwidth, selectivity, or longevity. This, at least, is a problem that can almost certainly be solved.

The other voices in the conversation:

Sridevi Sarma, biomedical engineer, Johns Hopkins University: How and how much to change the brainSteven Chase, biomedical engineer, Carnegie Mellon University: What to fearAndrew Hires, neurobiologist, University of Southern California: An optical link to the brain

Go deeper

2 hours ago - Technology

TikTok drives new nostalgia economy

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Older brands, trends and technologies are making a comeback as younger consumers desperately chase slower, less chaotic times.

The big picture: TikTok's algorithm makes it easy for flashback items to resurface and quickly go viral both on its platform and eventually on other social networks.

Updated 6 hours ago - World

Reports: Up to 17 U.S. missionaries kidnapped in Haiti

Haitian soldiers guard the public prosecutor's office in Port-au-Prince earlier this month. Photo: Richard Pierrin/AFP via Getty Images

Children were among up to 17 American Christian missionaries and their relatives kidnapped by a gang in Haiti on Saturday, the New York Times first reported.

Details: The missionaries had just left an orphanage and were traveling by bus to the airport to "drop off some members" and were due to travel to another destination when the gang struck in Port-au-Prince, Haitian security officials said, per the NYT.

7 hours ago - World

Melbourne, "world's most locked-down city," to lift stay-at-home orders

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews during a news conference in Melbourne, Australia, on Sunday. Photo: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images

Melbourne's stay-at-home orders will end five days earlier than planned, officials in Australia's second-biggest city announced Sunday.

Why it matters: The capital of the state of Victoria has had six lockdowns totaling 262 days since March last year. That means Melbourne spent longer under lockdown than "any other city in the world" during the pandemic, Reuters notes.