Brain enhancement through technology – just say YES!

Over at Read Write Web, The most excellent Marshall Kirkpatrick was suggesting and continues to think that connecting our brains to the internet – things like Internet Brain Implants – are a bad idea.

As much as I don’t like to challenge a fellow Oregonian, I could not disagree with Marshall more on this issue for several reasons:

The first is practical.   Invasive technologies that are wonderful are here already in the form of cochlear implants for hearing enhancements and even crude artificial eyes using brain implants.    Less invasive technologies that use brain wave controller devices (e.g. Emotiv Headsets and some simpler fun games) are here and will be coming soon to a brain near yours.

Regardless of whether other brain enhancements are good or bad, why fight the inevitable rather than just working with it?     Although nobody yet offers internet access it should be available within a few years.

Think of the amazing advantages, especially when we can get the communication flowing in both directions at computer speeds – which are generally much faster than those obtained via organic transmissions.     Language enhancements alone suggest to me that this would have amazing value, and I think more than a few high schoolers will enjoy computing calculus equations without any study.

Will these new abilities make us lazy?    It’s impossible to know, but I’d guess that the intellectual explosion we’ll see as enhancements hit the marketplace will bring far more solutions than problems as people can spend the huge amount of time once spent *learning*, *doing things* instead.

Brain implants?   Sign me up, Scotty!

9 thoughts on “Brain enhancement through technology – just say YES!

  1. There may be a potential for danger–imagine a military dictatorship which forcibly implants chips in young citizens and then controls them via joysticks, sending them into battle, on suicide missions, etc.–soldier-drones.

    At the same time one could imagine some type of non-invasive brain-ware which might improve the thinking of some humans– sanity-ware if you will, which kicks in when a person begins to envision–or enact–totalitarian or fundamentalist schemes. So Byronia and Max of New Worlds, outfitted with the sanity-ware (ie per CA Dept. of Mental Health) sneak off to their fave LDS chapel or Mitt Romney rally, and start into a Donny Osmond medley–and zap! The sanity ware gives ’em a nasty shock, and eventually they could be reconditioned.

    • Forget a military dictatorship…what about entrusting this kind of power to people that can’t be responsible with our taxdollars…can you imagine?

      Cas Sustein would drool to have this type of capability. I could see the spontaneous abortion implant required of all people!!!

  2. I’m surprised how the views on this tend to be so dystopian. We’ve *already got this stuff* and the only question is how long it’ll be before we have full and robust capabilities. The idea that enhancements are similar to mind control by *others* makes no sense to me.

    Even if I was worried as you two are about nefarious uses of these technologies, I’d want to see even faster development because that’ll be the only way to combat the bad guys who have this. e.g. You’d need your own enhancements to go up against brain enhanced people who will have uncanny precision wrt warfare and even strategic issues. Fretting over the philosophical implications of mind control will leave you more vulnerable to bad guys who …. don’t fret over that and just get the enhancments.

    But don’t worry, I’ll get enhanced and will fight for your luddite rights!

  3. I’m for brain-ware, used responsibly at least. Though I was sort of jesting, something like sanity-ware could be beneficial–to control say, extreme religious fundamentalists (including…..the mormonic sort), or various delusions (like….someone obsessed with being…. the next Donny Osmond).

    At the same time, it’s not difficult to envision dystopian scenarios involving brain control, or neural implants of some type–a staple of bad sci-fi, really. I recall a Star Dreck episode with a brain-ware gone wrong plot: a massive computer gone rogue which controls all the people on a planet or something, and then decides to exterminate when they don’t follow orders…..

    However I don’t think most people in the corporate world succeed merely because of smarts–but because they happen to be at the Techie Casino at the right time, more or less, and have the right connections (school, family, religion, etc). Certainly there are engineers and techies who know more mathematics and science than Billy Gates. I wager even some Ducksters could defeat Mr Gates in a game of chess.

  4. this is old stuff – but I want to say that this may produce future generations of idiots incapable of retaining information, and being fully reliant on internet connection. A natural disaster or any issues with the local powergrid and you’re offline, spontaneously an idiot (I don’t actually mean you). Humans are lazy, and will accustomed to handicap technology. So don’t get so excited about non-self-sufficient brain enhancements. If anything, it would make us substantially vulnerable to outside attacks – such as hacking and whatnot. And it doesn’t have to be “a military dictatorship” (ROFL), it can be a 14-year old kid in Ukraine who just figured out how to exploit the new dongle sticking out the back of your head.

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