Computers and Drugs Working Together: The Present and Future of Neural Biotechnologies

by Mark Finnern

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In this month's Future
Drs. Chorost and Lynch will discuss the present state of neural technologies
for treating deafness and their likely future. Dr. Chorost will open by explaining
how the most advanced neurostimulation technology on the market, the cochlear
implant, enables the deaf to hear. Dr. Lynch will follow with a discussion of
pharmaceutical technologies which may actually prevent and cure deafness.

Thursday 12th of August 7-9pm: SAP Labs North America, Building D, Room
Southern Cross, 3410 Hillview Avenue, Palo Alto, CA 94304 [map]
Free and open to the public.

A true cure for deafness is probably years away, but in the meantime computers
(that is, cochlear implants) and drugs (that is, pharmaceuticals) may soon work
together synergistically to produce far more effective treatments for deafness
than are available now. The speakers will go back and forth brainstorming on
how such a synergy might come about. The authors will supplement their talk
with fascinating photographs and animations to explain how these cutting-edge
technologies work. At the heart of their talk is the idea of the "cyborg",
the human being whose body is directly controlled by implanted computer technology
and pharmaceutical interventions.

About the Speakers

Dr. Chorost’s new book, “Rebuilt: How A Computer Made Me More Human”
will be published by Houghton Mifflin in 2005. It is a memoir of his experience
going deaf and getting his hearing back with a cochlear implant, and discusses
at length its science and technology. He has a B.A. from Brown University and
a Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin. He currently works as a researcher
in educational technologies at SRI International in Menlo Park.

Dr. Lynch is Director of Research at Sound Pharmaceuticals in Seattle. He completed
his PhD at the University of California, Berkeley, where he mapped the first
human gene for hearing loss. During his post-doctoral studies at the University
of Washington, he served as a Research Assistant Professor in the Division of
Medical Genetics and helped to identify and characterize the first genes for
breast cancer and brain cancer. He co-founded Sound Pharmaceuticals in 2001
with the goal of creating drugs to prevent and reverse hearing loss.

Christopher Allen also comments,
that Mike is a great presenter:

I heard Mike at the last Sylvia's Cybersalon. He was a great speaker,
and his presentation was very effective. Plus he was sort of a live demo --
for instance, he would pull away the transceiver to his implant to show how
it was magnetically attached to his skin, or attach the input to a cell phone
to show how he can directly hear his cell phone (and ignore the rest of the

As usual, there will be a round of introductions at the beginning and big discussions
during the talk that will continue on over dinner somewhere in Palo Alto. Hope
you can make it.