Documenting the Coming Singularity

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Researcher Hopes to Have the First Brain-Enhancing Implant

I stayed up far too late a couple of nights ago watching this video. I couldn't turn it off, it was so interesting. I bring it up to talk about one of the researchers featured in it who is currently developing a computer chip that he plans to connect directly to his own brain. He has already had surgery to connect leads to his own nervous system through his wrist, so I have little doubt he will do as he says.

Which brings me to a question I raised a couple of weeks ago in this blog: When will remediation become augmentation? In other words, when will implants move from helping the sick to enhancing the well? The answer may just lie with self-experimenters like the researcher in the film.

This raises an even more intriguing question: What will the experimenter experience? Imagine a chip designed to add processing power. How would such a chip, assuming that it is correctly designed, feel? Perhaps we should begin with a more simple implant, one that is designed to add to the experimenter's senses, maybe so that he can see in the infrared range. I would think he would have to learn how to mentally access the new linkage, then his brain would have to learn how to interpret the signals and how to integrate them into his field of view. Perhaps at first he would hallucinate, his mind not knowing how to decipher the new data stream.

Not being a neuroscientist myself, I am only indulging in wild speculation, and I am certain that trained professionals would be far better at this than I, but it is interesting to think about. I truly can't wait to hear about this brave man's experiences. Stay tuned.

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