Artificial Vision - On Medicine

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For nearly 100 years, we have understood the idea that it might be possible to restore sight to those who have become blind through a device that delivers electrical stimulation to the brain [Mirochnik, Pezaris, 2019]. Visual prostheses, as they are called, form part of a constellation of approaches that seek to deliver input to the brain to replace a lost or missing sense, including cochlear implants for the deaf, and cortical implants for the insensate, such as amputees with robotic arms. The challenges faced by each approach are similar: biological compatibility, long-term functional stability, and interpretability of the evoked sensations. Biological compatibility has thus far been addressed by careful selection of materials and implant techniques, but much remains to be done to create devices that the body will tolerate for decades with a low risk of infection or rejection. The first major challenge is long-term functional stability; ensuring that the effectiveness of the devices do not degrade over time.