LeWeb13: Ramez Naam [en]

Wiring the human brain. Sending information from one’s person mind to another. Nexus: mankind gets an upgrade.

LeWeb'13, Ramez Naam 2

Keanu Reeves “I know Kung Fu”.

Working circuit printed on human skin, with sensors & ambient supply. Google glass style contact lenses. Pill cam, in use since 2008 in thousands of patients (clinical trial). 3 cameras taking 30fps from inside you.

Let’s go beyond that and talk about the brain. Internet of things: the “thing” we’re the most concerned about is ourselves.

Cochlear implants. 200K people that no hearing aid can help. Data sent directly to the brain.

First motivation for these “cyborg” technologies is medical.

Also progress for sight. Man who lost an eye at 18, and the second (accident) a year later. Now he has a CCTV camera on his glasses. Limited mobility vision. Can very carefully park a car. 16px by 16px grid. Terrible, but a quantum leap up from 0px, and a proof of concept: we can send digital vision to the brain.

Another man, paralysed from the neck down and vocal cords destroyed by tracheotomy. Electrode in motor area of his brain allows him to type on computer.

Damaged hippocampus tissue can be replaced by chip.

Increasing performance in certain tasks in monkeys (Planet of the Apes).

Two monkeys in two rooms with electrodes in their auditory cortex, connected. One monkey hears one sound, the other hears the same sound and knows what it means.

Rats: one is trained to respond to a series of lights => specific lever. Second rat performs much better on the test than if he had no prior knowledge. (Thousands of km away.)

Two computer scientists playing a video game as a single player thousands of miles away.

Hippocampal bridge: prior knowledge of the maze for a second rat.

This is far ahead, more than 10 years.

Issues: this is your brain. Who wants to play with it? If you’re blind of deaf, benefits can be great, but if you’re healthy… ahem.

Digital stuff never malfunctions and is never hacked. (NOT)

You don’t want the NSA in your brain either…

All that said, Ramez is very optimistic, because of the history of information technology.

The printing press increased the pace of innovation and scientific progress. Newton was able to write his book only because he was able to absorb the ideas of hundreds of others before him through books. And printing allowed him to spread his ideas to hundreds and thousands of others.

Increase our ability to spread ideas => more ideas. Also, democratisation of knowledge. Changed the relationship between the government and the governed.

Even the idea of civil rights was only made possible by the cheap distribution of new disruptive ideas.

See things through others’ eyes? Maybe literally possible in the future.

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