Saturday, March 15, 2014

Our Cyborg Future

Cyborg: a person whose body contains mechanical or electrical devices and whose abilities are greater than the abilities of normal humans.
Drawing by vladgrin
Psychology professor Gary Marcus and brain scientist Christof Koch foresee an imminent future of brain implants not only to restore neural function but to improve it.
Eventually neural implants will make the transition from being used exclusively for severe problems such as paralysis, blindness or amnesia. They will be adopted by people with less traumatic disabilities. When the technology has advanced enough, implants will graduate from being strictly repair-oriented to enhancing the performance of healthy or "normal" people. They will be used to improve memory, mental focus (Ritalin without the side effects), perception and mood (bye, bye Prozac). [snip]

By the end of this century, and quite possibly much sooner, every input device that has ever been sold will be obsolete. Forget the "heads-up" displays that the high-end car manufactures are about to roll out, allowing drivers to see data without looking away from the road. By the end of the century, many of us will be wired directly into the cloud, from brain to toe.
Many who don't want their brains directly connected to computers or even other brains will feel forced into acceptance:
The augmented among us—those who are willing to avail themselves of the benefits of brain prosthetics and to live with the attendant risks—will outperform others in the everyday contest for jobs and mates, in science, on the athletic field and in armed conflict.
Speaking as one who declines even to undergo laser-eye surgery despite its latter-day efficacy and safety, I am likely to be left behind. The, er, silver lining: my age dictates that I probably won't be around to see our cyborg future.

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