Even though your brain is the oldest piece of technology, it’s also the next frontier in computing. For decades we’ve interacted with devices through our actions. But, through neural implants such as Neuralink, we’ll interact with technology through our minds – creating a shared awareness among everyone.
Even though they sound super Sci-Fi, neural implants aren’t new. Paralyzed patients have previously used brain-computer interfaces to control robotic arms. Also, more than 80,000 Parkinson’s patients around the world have a deep-brain stimulation implant.
Unlike previous neural implants, this upcoming class of brain-computer interfaces, like Neuralink, create a frictionless connection between the world’s information and our underutilized brains.
Neural Implants Don’t Create the Cyborg
Neural implants are no doubt a frightening concept to think about. Putting a computer inside your skull seems like the first step in becoming a cyborg and losing control of your mind to some evil overlord.
But, in fact, this is one of the final steps in realizing your cyborg abilities. In other words, you are already a cyborg.
We are so deeply attached to our devices that being away from a phone actually psychologically mimics the attachment we felt to our favorite teddy bear growing up.
Becoming “one with the technology” isn’t a matter of putting the technology inside of you. It’s about the habits forcing your dependence upon it.
The other day I was playing Bocce Ball, a simple yard game where you throw bigger balls at a smaller ball. Instead of listening to one of our friends who insisted on knowing the rules, we consulted our smartphones for the official rules (which were the same as our friend stated).
Our habits are already that of a cyborg. We’ve evolved with our technology devices and our daily habits reflect that.
The next stage in evolution is bringing computing technology into our bodies, making the experience even more seamless.
Of course, most of us draw the line with technology advancement once it enters the realm of biology.
But, we’ll all come around to it like we came around to Lasik eye surgery. In 1991, only 105,000 Lasik eye procedures were completed in the United States. By 2015, that number exploded to over 21 million.
There are many other areas where technology has enhanced our biology. In this case, neural implants will make us more intelligent than ever before.
Shared Awareness Creates Better Experiences
Searching for knowledge thirty years ago meant looking into your collection of Encyclopedias. Now, you just reach into your pocket and search Wikipedia. Soon, seeking new knowledge will be no different than thinking about what you had for breakfast this morning.
Neuralink and other neural implants could make learning a new skill as easy as downloading Microsoft Word on your computer.
In the Matrix, we see this technology in action when Neo uploads Kung Fu software into his abilities.
Honestly, learning new abilities is the cool, but selfish side of Neuralink. The real innovation comes from the collective shared awareness we’ll create amongst one another.
Shared awareness comes from sharing situational and experiential knowledge. Often times, a problem you experience has already been solved and written about online. But, finding that information in a dire situation is usually not an option.
During my freshmen year of college, I was bonding with a friend of mine when she opened up about her eating disorder. Unsure of the best way to respond, I sat there speechless.
I know that others have helped their friends deal with this problem. With a Neuralink, my brain could’ve scoured the web to learn from this shared awareness and better helped my friend.
We’ve all had moments where our brains seem to shut down because we just “don’t know”. While these vulnerable situations can define us, they also cause a lot of unnecessary pain.
A shared awareness through neural implants creates a reality where we don’t have to struggle through old problems. We learn each other’s mistakes instantaneously and move onto other things.
Interestingly, a shared awareness goes deeper than connecting with knowledge and understanding. Brain-computer interfaces bring about new ways of communicating and connecting with one another.
Neuralink Call from “Ryan’s Thoughts”
Verbal communication is an inefficient process. First, my ears collect sound waves. Those sound waves are sent to the auditory cortex where they are transcribed into words. Then, they are sent to “Wernicke’s Area”, which is responsible for understanding language.
Once I understand what you say, to produce language, signals are sent to “Broca’s Area”. These are then relayed to the motor cortex, which sends signals to the larynx, tongue, and mouth to produce speech.
This entire process leaves a lot of room for error, misunderstanding, and inability to convey what you want to say.
Imagine if you could speak through your thoughts. In other words, carry on a conversation through thought communication. Famous Physicist, Michio Kaku, says that this brain-to-brain communication may help us convey a complete message between each other.
We all know there are some feelings we just can’t put into words. Some emotions are so heavy that there’s no way of conveying them properly and trying to do so just results in frustration.
However, through thought communication, you could send a friend your current consciousness – truly letting them inside your head.
Spending a moment inside someone else’s thoughts would bring context to a conversation that often gets left out. No longer would someone’s intentions be hidden by our external non-verbals. Instead, thought communication makes communicating an open book of understanding.
You’ve heard the saying, “You can’t understand someone until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes.” But, empathizing still leaves room for interpretation.
The new saying will be, “You can’t understand someone until you’ve spent a moment in their thoughts.”
Neuralink provides an opportunity to not only download knowledge but to download experiences. And in experiencing exactly what someone else has gone through, we may be able to better solve our problems with others.
Losing Our Touch
For now, while researchers and scientists create the best Neuralink neural implant, we must continue to connect with others as best we can.
It starts with spontaneous interactions.
Every time I feel lonely and hidden by my technology, I go for a walk. In that walk, I try to make eye-contact and smile at as many people as possible.
Although I have more misses than hits, I can see the other person’s day brighten when we lock eyes.
I dare you to spark up a conversation today with a stranger. Or just give them a smile. Do not lose your spontaneous touch.
Half the reason I create these Quick Theories is to give you something interesting and out of the ordinary to talk about. Call up a friend and talk to them about this topic. And if you would be so kind, please share the article on social media for others to enjoy (using the links below).