Mind in Motion


By Miguel A. L. Nicolelis M.A.L. ニコレリス
English 日本語 日本語
In 2014 billions of viewers worldwide may remember the opening game of the World Cup in Brazil for more than just the goals scored by the Brazilian national team and the red cards given to its adversary. On that day my laboratory at Duke University, which specializes in developing technologies that allow electrical signals from the brain to control robotic limbs, plans to mark a milestone in overcoming paralysis.  2014年に開催されるサッカー・ワールドカップ・ブラジル大会の開幕戦は世界中の何十億人もの観衆の記憶に永く残るものになるだろう。それはブラジルチームがゴールを決めるからでも,対戦相手にレッドカードが与えられるからでもない。脳の電気信号でロボットの四肢を制御する技術を開発しているデューク大学の私の研究室が,身体麻痺克服に向けた1つの重要な到達点を世界に示すからだ。
If we succeed in meeting still formidable challenges, the first ceremonial kick of the World Cup game may be made by a paralyzed teenager, who, flanked by the two contending soccer teams, will saunter onto the pitch clad in a robotic body suit. This suit—or exoskeleton, as we call it—will envelop the teenager’s legs. His or her first steps onto the field will be controlled by motor signals originating in the kicker’s brain and transmitted wirelessly to a computer unit the size of a laptop in a backpack carried by our patient. This computer will be responsible for translating electrical brain signals into digital motor commands so that the exoskeleton can first stabilize the kicker’s body weight and then induce the robotic legs to begin the back-and-forth coordinated movements of a walk over the manicured grass. Then, on approaching the ball, the kicker will visualize placing a foot in contact with it. Three hundred milliseconds later brain signals will instruct the exoskeleton’s robotic foot to hook under the leather sphere, Brazilian style, and boot it aloft.  私たちの前にはいまだに手ごわい難題が立ちはだかっているが,それらを解決し,10代の麻痺患者にワールドカップの記念すべきファーストキックを蹴ってもらう予定だ。ロボットスーツを装着したキッカーは,開幕試合で対戦する両チームの選手を左右に従え,ゆったりと歩いてピッチに上がる。このロボットスーツ「エクソスケルトン」は,キッカーの脚を覆うものになるだろう。
This scientific demonstration of a radically new technology, undertaken with collaborators in Europe and Brazil, will convey to a global audience of billions that brain control of machines has moved from lab demos and futuristic speculation to a new era in which tools capable of bringing mobility to patients incapacitated by injury or disease may become a reality. We are on our way, perhaps by the next decade, to technology that links the brain with mechanical, electronic or virtual machines. This development will restore mobility, not only to accident and war victims but also to patients with ALS (also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease), Parkinson’s and other disorders that disrupt motor behaviors that impede arm reaching, hand grasping, locomotion and speech production. Neuroprosthetic devices—or brain-machine interfaces—will also allow scientists to do much more than help the disabled. They will make it possible to explore the world in revolutionary ways by providing healthy human beings with the ability to augment their sensory and motor skills.  欧州とブラジルの研究者の協力を得て計画中のこの画期的新技術のデモンストレーションは,脳による機械制御がもはや単なる実験や未来予想図ではなく,怪我や病気で身体に障害を持つようになった人の運動能力を器具で回復させられる新時代が近いことを,世界中の数十億の人々に知らせることになるはずだ。
In this futuristic scenario, voluntary electrical brain waves, the biological alphabet that underlies human thinking, will maneuver large and small robots remotely, control airships from afar, and perhaps even allow the sharing of thoughts and sensations of one individual with another over what will become a collective brain-based network.  そうした未来では,意識的に発せられた電気的な脳波(人間の思考の基礎となる生物学的な言語)で大小のロボットを遠隔操作したり,離れた場所から飛行船を制御できるようになる。ひょっとすると,一個人の思考や感覚を“集団的な脳のネットワーク”を介して他人と共有することすら可能になるかもしれない。