Are you ready to take the next bold step in evolution?
If brain implants today are as far away as laser eye surgery was a couple of decades ago, it could very well be that an implanted cognitive prosthesis is in a future near you.
According to this article in the Wall Street Journal, “…before the end of the century, our computer keyboards and trackpads will seem like a joke; even Google Glass 3.0 will seem primitive. Why would you project information onto your eyes (partly occluding your view) when you could write information into your brain so your mind can directly interpret it? Why should a computer wait for you to say or type what you mean rather than anticipating your needs before you can even articulate them?”
As we embark on this frontier we simply cannot imagine nor predict the consequences. Yes, I want to increase my mental acuity. Of course I would love a perfect memory, the ability to instantly translate any foreign-language conversation, access to the entire universe of information with just the flip of a thought. Who would not want Superman-like telescoping and microscopic vision, let alone super-hearing? Got some bad memories to purge? Implants can help with that too. As a matter of fact, a litany of brain disorders might be quickly and easily dispatched once we’re into 2nd or 3rd generation brain implants.
Ah, but there is, of course, a dark side. Isn’t it always so?
If my memories can be purged, then they can also be synthesized. If my vision can be augmented, then so can my reality. Philosophically, brain implants quickly lead to an existential dilemma, akin to Chuang Chou’s butterfly dream. Which thoughts are my own? Will I be able to tell the difference? Is there such a thing as “my own thoughts” when the illusion of separation is so completely dispatched. Alas, the quandaries are legion.
But I still want it.