Technology is about to enable telepathy… a few decades maybe: little more than the blink of an eye in terms of human history!
We’ll be able to connect to one another’s experiences, senses, feelings, thoughts and emotions like we connect to a livecam today, and humanity will be entirely redefined in the process.
When we think of telepathy we normally envision 1 to 1 communication in a very personal sense: afterall most of us wouldn’t want just anyone to be able to freely roam in our mind.
Some of our grandparents share this sentiment each time they see how we are so keen to share pictures of our food and private thoughts for the world to see on social media. For them Privacy means something entirely different.
If we are able to imagine a world where our sense for privacy loosens up a little more, at first sight we can see a technology that will enable a whole new stream of commercial activities, but the more time we’ll get to spend on the “peoplenet” -for lack of a better brand-, the more we’ll be changed by it.
Wake up, start working on a project, use someone else’s body and senses to get first hand experience of a remote product and location before lunch.
Come back home and connect to your favourite reality show star and live their life for a while. Borrow someone’s else’s body to talk to a remote friend in person while your body goes for a run controlled by someone else. At last, if you want to push it to a controversial extreme, make love while “wearing” someone else’s mind blowing body to satisfy your partner’s fantasy of the day.
Whether the above is an utopia or a dystopia is up for debate, but it would be ridiculous to expect that this technology will stop within the boundaries of our current comfort zone.
That comfort zone is exactly the subject of this post: letting someone perceive the world literally through our own eyes, is a tremendously intimate experience, and that is exactly where the discomfort stems from, but if we learnt one thing in the last century is that humans are tremendously adaptable to new technology.
We got used to flying, to pocket-sized computers, to algorithms recommending where to go on holiday, and sure enough we’ll slowly get used to telepathy too.
As we do, as we become used to live years of our lives in other people’s body, to the point that watching the mirror becomes a need rather than a vanity exercise, will we begin to see the distinction between “me” and “you” slowly fading away?
While truly experience the interlink between all of us, will our perception of our species change forever?
This interlinks strongly with how society is evolving right now in our time: we are already steering away from individualism, and it’s difficult to say yet what aspects of this evolution will be positive to keep, and which will be a downside worth fighting.
Until only a few years ago it seemed like social network were bringing us all closer together: think of the “arab springs” and how close a look into that world we were able to have thank to social media.
Today, it’s harder to keep that optimism intact as it seems tribalism is on the rise again.
Scarier still: this came entirely unexpected… how can a more connected world become more divided?
Whether for the good or for the bad, it’s obvious that our current technology is having a deep impact on how we connect, relate and empathize with others. Telepathy is still decades away, and we can already be sure that its impact on society will be far greater than any social network we built so far.
The time is now to learn as much as possible from our successes and mistakes: augmented-sociality is here to stay and it’s just at its dawn.
A large portion of our future as a society depends on our ability to understand and control this technology while it moves the first steps.