Most of us live a symbiotic relationship with our mobile phones: it would be in many way a brain enhancer, but the data flow has a terribly slow bottleneck: our senses.
We use hand movements to provide an input to the device, and vision to acquire the output of our requests: typically reading.
Cutting out the middle man -our senses- would make for a portable computer that acquires inputs from our thoughts and returns information directly in the short term memory of our brains.
Scientists around the world are working on what is called a brain-computer interface, aiming to cut out the middle man -our senses- and ultimately developing a super-portable computer that acquires inputs from our thoughts and returns information directly into our brains.
This fascinating technology is at the very early stages of research, and it has the potential to open humanity to an unprecedented range of possibilities:
- direct access to virtually the whole human knowledge in real time (i.e.: the Internet),
- enhancing our senses via neuroprosthetics,
- seemingly telepathic communication with other humans (or even other species, to a degree),
- quickly resolve any algorithmically depictable question or problem,
- probably many others that cannot yet be imagined.
One thing that stroke immediately my attention when I considered how this technology will change humanity, is the issue of time.
There are many other open questions, but when I think how our life is structured, many of us spend years or decades in school, and months of training time at each job change, leaving alone the fact that many jobs are essentially a continuous cycle of research and deployment of new creative solutions.
This can be counted in hundreds of hours per year, all of which would be reduced to minutes.
The economical part of this would in itself cause the end of an era, but Anthropomorphic Robots are evolving at a much faster rate and they will probably beat brain-computer interfaces to that, as I discussed here.
But on a more humanistic level, at risk of sounding trivial, how many of us will feel lost, deprived of a purpose in life, and what would that involve, when brought to a massive scale? How many will instead be empowered to an incredible degree to go beyond the realm of what is imaginable and do math that we cannot even conceive to solve questions that we don’t yet have?
Open questions like these have no clear answer, and serve no apparent purpose other than being a framework, but properly reformulated can become a work in progress in the right direction.
For example: how should humanity prepare to minimise the feeling of lost purpose in the individuals and maximise that of empowerment, when such technology will rise?