Thursday, December 12, 2013

We Are All Cyborgs Now

It's at least possible that the amount of improvement biological techniques can make in humans is rather limited. Maybe we are too close to the biological optimum already. Suppose that genetic engineering will be limited to correcting some of nature's more obvious mistakes, like genetic diseases. That hardly exhausts our self-improvement options.

Another staple of science fiction is the Cyborg. We have been adopting various artificial enhancements for some time - eyeglasses, hearing aids, even shoes and clothing might fit. Once again, though, modern electronics expands the potential enormously. Already Dick Cheney is kept alive by an artificial pump that aids his heart. More dramatically, bionic limbs operated by thought alone have been developed. Perhaps most radically, attempts to create brain-computer interfaces at the cellular level are underway.

What would the world look like if you could interface directly with the internet and the other brains connected to it? Such ideas look less far-fetched than ever before.

Bionic technologies operated by thought alone. Potential for unlimited development. Bionic parts can be replaced and upgraded, can be operated remotely. One monkey has learned to simultaneously control both her biological arms and a remote bionic arm by thought alone.

Such technology could be revolutionary for people with so called locked in syndrome.

One of the most radical technologies is the so-called Blue Brain Project. It's goal is no less than a detailed electronic simulation of the human brain. Apparently the European Union has made it its core scientific goal, and put up a giga Euro of earnest money. If this succeeds fully the potential is gigantic.

One can imagine backing up one's brain to the computer, or transitioning to a purely electronic existence.