Implanting a computer chip into the brain
One day, our cognitive abilities could be enhanced using computer chips implanted into the brain. iStock

The founder of $100m "human intelligence" start-up Kernel believes that, in the next 15 years, mankind will be able to artificially enhance the mind's natural abilities by implanting computer chips directly into the brain.

Bryan Johnson, speaking at the recent Web Summit in Lisbon, said that within 20 years scientists could develop technology that would enable us to "pose any question we wanted".

"For example, could I have a perfect memory? Could I delete my memories? Could I increase my rate of learning, could I have brain to brain communication? Imagine a scenario where I say 'I want to know what it's like to be a cowboy in the American west in the 1800s?' and someone creates that experience mentally. I'm able to take that and purchase that from that person and experience that."

According to Johnson, Kernel's current focus is on developing a "neuroprosthetic" chip that could help people who have suffered damage to their brains from conditions such as Alzheimer's, concussion and strokes.

However, the company's objective looking forward is to develop the chip further for the purpose of "cognitive enhancement".

"To further explore our own human boundaries, a wave of new technologies needs to emerge that can access, read, and write from the most powerful tool we have — the human brain," the company's mission statement says.

Johnson has ploughed $100m of his own money into Kernel. Formerly, he set up online payments company Braintree, selling it to PayPal for $800m in 2013.