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How Cyborg Tech Could Link the Minds of the World 219

An anonymous reader writes "Science writer Michael Chorost has written a book that suggests that mankind may one day be able to link individual minds to share thoughts, feelings and perceptions by genetically modifying individuals brains and implanting computers based on neural networks in the body. Here he talks about the implications for human relationships, our sense of self and phenomenon like telempathy and dream brainstorming that this so-called World Wide Mind would make possible."
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How Cyborg Tech Could Link the Minds of the World

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  • Oh Crap! (Score:5, Funny)

    by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Tuesday March 01, 2011 @05:50PM (#35351636) Journal

    Great, now Facebook will be modifying my brain's privacy settings with little or no notice.

    • I don't care. I still want a gigabit ethernet port on the back of my skull.
    • All I'm saying is...

      Goatse... IN YOUR BRAIN

      • Once you see it, you can't unsee it...

      •'s already there.

        I'm doubtful any "world wide mind" will arise anytime soon, but we absolutely could begin experiment with parallelizing rats today, i.e. raise two rats with a high bandwidth link, after one rat learns the maze, the other knows it. And we'd eventually developed massively paralleled humans, literally Beowulf. ;)

    • SciFic Movie [1954] Forbidden Planet where the highly advanced species murderously seeks the final solution of extinction.

      • by spun ( 1352 )

        When was the last time you watched that movie? The highly advanced species were victims of their own "Monsters from the Id." They created a machine that could literally make thoughts into reality, then they went to sleep and their dreams killed them all. They weren't murderously seeking anything. It's not so much a dystopian fable, as it is a direct copy of Shakespeare's "The Tempest."

        • Yes, their murderous "Monsters from the Id." provided extinction as a final solution for all their greatness was humanly flawed. Let's not make this a tempest in a teapot.... Like good archeologist/anthropologist we both see the same results, but not the same fictitious path.

          • Yes, their murderous "Monsters from the Id." provided extinction as a final solution for all their greatness was humanly flawed. Let's not make this a tempest in a teapot.... Like good archeologist/anthropologist we both see the same results, but not the same fictitious path.

            I see what you did there.

    • What do we expect? Now our bosses will be able to read our minds.

      • Not just read. Write!

      • by c0lo ( 1497653 )

        What do we expect? Now our bosses will be able to read our minds.

        And you would be able to read theirs.

    • Not if you don't have a facebook account, genius.
  • by NEDHead ( 1651195 ) on Tuesday March 01, 2011 @05:51PM (#35351646)

    I had a thought, but I am not sure it is mine

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I had a thought, but I am not sure it is mine

      Loss of self is exactly the problem. Most people probably won't believe me when I say this, but I am a telepath - a reader, not a sender. I read other people's thoughts, usually without meaning to do so. Unlike in the movies, those thoughts don't "sound" any different in my head than my own thoughts. Sometimes they "feel" different, sometimes not. But unless a thought is something completely out of normal range for me ("I'm going to be late picking up the kids," etc.), I often don't have positive confi

      • Most people probably won't believe me when I say this, but I am a telepath

        Most people here would believe you if you had any evidence whatsoever other than a few anecdotes.

        Also, shouldn't you be helping out psychologists/neurosurgeons in explaining how the brain works rather than moaning about how annoying it is to you?

  • I don't want to die, so box my brain and let me live on the net. I'll even let you use all the wonderful subconscious processing power that is usually dealing with my autonomous functions.


  • by mrnobo1024 ( 464702 ) on Tuesday March 01, 2011 @05:52PM (#35351654)

    we'll have an executive order giving the government the authority to wiretap your brain and read your thoughts at any time. Without needing a warrant. They'll say it's justified by the threat of terrorism, as usual.

    • Just reading off the sense data would be terrifying enough.
    • We'll have an executive order giving the government the authority to wiretap your brain and read your thoughts at any time. Without needing a warrant.

      ...Well we are always saying the government should fear its people. I can't think of a quicker way to make that happen....

    • by gl4ss ( 559668 )

      don't worry, it will take a loooooooooooooooooooong time.

      this is just a normal example of some idiot making up fantasy tech and then trying to be a visionary about how it will affect the world.
      he's just invented telepathy mind merging and used gene modifying and non-invented chips to justify it's possibility. he could just as well have used magic pixie dust for it.

      silent "telepathic" communications I could see happening pretty fast through trickery(an observer would think that they can hear what each other

      • I would like to make a prediction, too! In a hundred years, computers will commonly be either implanted or so compact as to be effectively hidden (Think projectors in glasses with an EEG or subvocal input). This isn't going to lead to much in the way of telepathic revolutions, but it will result in the arrival of continuous intensive multitasking - people who are checking facebook, playing Farmville 2111 and looking at porn constantly even at work or during conversation. Their apparent inattentiveness in re
  • by lwsimon ( 724555 ) <> on Tuesday March 01, 2011 @05:53PM (#35351668) Homepage Journal

    I read this book in high school - it was called "The Light of Other Days" back then.

    • Assuming you went to highschool more than 5-10 years ago, the main difference is we're now much of the way there already.

      True, the coupling is through monitors and optic nerves, instead of some other slightly more direct route. But how much does that really change things?

      Right now, you can sit at your desk, monitor slashdot (or foxnews, whatever), and define your self image and get an emotional rise 20 times per day about issues which (to you) are nothing more than electromagnetic disturbances. You c

      • Yes, but that's just empathy. It's not the same as actually transferring the experience and thoughts from one person to another.
        • That's what empathy is []. The very same neurons are activated as if you were experiencing it yourself.

          Of course, not to the degree that you lose self-awareness. But to that degree, you're not even "one" with your own self of two minutes ago, since you normally distinguish memories from present tense. (Whereas we are not nearly as reliable in differentiating our own memories from things we've been told about that could plausibly have happened to us).

          To the extent that sci-fi authors are anticipating a b

    • There is a rather large difference between writing a story about something being done and something actually being done.

  • What are the implications of this technology when applied to porn?
    • Virtual reality casual sex with no chances of catching an STD.

      Of course, you might get ANOTHER kind of virus ...

      "Attention! Your cerebral cortex is infected with a virus! Upgrade to the premium version of Brainsecure immediately for the low price of 1,999 credits!"

  • You mean a scifi writer wrote a book about some scifi concepts? Amazing!
  • "hey, that's not the same pony-tale you were just riding that flying lizard with, is it?!!!"
  • A huge number of science fiction and fantasy stories have explored this subject. It's not exactly a new idea.

    If we discover enough information about brains work to hook into them at that level, we'll be able to build brains. Probably ones that clock a lot faster and definitely have more storage than biological ones.

  • We are the cyborgs. Prepare to be assimilated. Resistance is futile.

  • And I can't imagine why anyone would want this. Convergence is a terrifying concept, moreso than the general Christian idea of effectively being lobotomized once you reach heaven.
    • Welcome to the new age of knowledge, Luddite...
      Christianity will do what it has always done, it will adapt and change with the times, you think your religion is the same one as it was 2000 years ago?
      • Hah, no, you're right, it isn't.

        Back then it was about one man trying to do the best for his people.

        These days it's about forcing others into what you think is right, regardless of what they think about that.

        A major difference, indeed.

  • That's Ghost in the Shell. In the world of Ghost in the Shell, most people have a cybernetic implant in the back of the neck that allows them to communicate and browse the Internet.

    Of course I fully expect Christians to lose their shit over this.

    • Actually, true mind sharing in GITS is probably only happening during "Ghost Hacking", which is presumably why so few people are able to do it. Think the scene with Motoko and the Laughing Man in the medical clinic in SAC. What's more used is "External Memory", which together with replaceable cyborg bodies can make people lose their identity (but not their selves, their ghosts/souls), which is illustrated by the fact that Motoko who is shown to use remote-control bodies and presumably has a huge external me
      • by hitmark ( 640295 )

        My impression, given SAC and SAC2 was that there was multiple layers. Each layer was covered by "firewalls", and only the innermost allowed full access to all memories. Usually one only went for the outermost where one could exchange active thought (unless the person engaged "autistic mode" and disconnected from the net fully), lower levels would give access to sensory channels (seeing and hearing what the other person was experiencing, likely playing havoc with copyright laws in the process. tho given the

  • C'mon, we've all seen the damage that it can do ( ) - do we really want to rely on someone who can't use this to shut down the network before a botnet or virus attack kills us all?

      People with ADHD would be considered assault weapons, at least until someone invented a filter. Which, as it would turn out, *does* fit into 30-40 bytes. But maybe we'll find out how to transfer memory or thoughts/sensations before figuring out how to automatically process it? That would be a real problem, and would probably limit the technology to only receiving input from trusted sources. Or maybe the processing would require you to tote
      • by hitmark ( 640295 )

        Hell, consider something like a meme/advertisement "bomb". I do wonder if one illegal digital drug would be "god" based.

  • IMHO, those who can resist will ultimately triumph.

  • []

    For Teilhard, the noosphere emerges through and is constituted by the interaction of human minds. The noosphere has grown in step with the organization of the human mass in relation to itself as it populates the earth. As mankind organizes itself in more complex social networks, the higher the noosphere will grow in awareness. This concept is an extension of Teilhard's Law of Complexity/Consciousness, the law describing the nature of evolution in the universe. Teilhard argued the noosphere is growing towards an even greater integration and unification, culminating in the Omega Point, which he saw as the goal of history. The goal of history, then, is an apex of thought/consciousness.

  • Shared happiness (Score:4, Interesting)

    by ddrueding80 ( 1091191 ) on Tuesday March 01, 2011 @06:46PM (#35352274)
    What would happen if you made everyone feel as happy as the global average? What affect would that have on global policy and philanthropy if acting in the common good was in fact also acting selfishly?
  • Violent thoughts (Score:4, Informative)

    by Caerdwyn ( 829058 ) on Tuesday March 01, 2011 @06:48PM (#35352288) Journal

    So with the ability to directly convey hostility, anger, fear, and an overwhelming desire for upskirt shots, the concept of "thought crime" will become reality. "Mental assault" will be criminalized since your WOULD be able to cause distress in others with just a thought. People who were truly upset with a government would be easily detected and "dealt with".

    Personally, I doubt that the tech would work as described. But if it did... consider what a surveillance-based government would do with it.

    By amendment to the Constitution, any use of the aforesaid "telempathy" should be limited to online pornography.

    • And why shouldn't it be? If I'd link with someone and transfer thoughts or memories intended only to harm that person, that would be assault. It would at least presumably be very distressing to the receiving party, more so than a punch to the face probably.
  • I can't wait to have my brain hooked up to the hive-mind equivalent of 4chan... Why on earth would anyone think that this is a good idea?
  • A shame, you seemed an honest man
    And all the fears you hold so dear
    Will turn to whisper in your ear...

    And you know what they say might hurt you
    And you know that it means so much
    But you don't even feel a thing...
  • It sounds like the extroverts among us would have more fun with this than the introverted types, which includes me. The idea of constantly being hooked up to a hive-mind sounds exhausting. I suspect that if this concept ever becomes a reality and they wanted more nerds on board, then they'd have to include a switch so that individuals would have the choice to take themselves off-line every once in a while (or only join in when they felt like it).
    • Actually, introverts would probably be "stronger" than extroverts, for the reason that they have more experience with their own minds and would be better at thought-control and reading their own internal state/"being in themselves". Also, yay for "normal" people being exposed to the mind of someone with Autism or Asperger. Or, horrifyingly, psychopathy.
      • Not really. Extroverted people love interacting with external stimuli in which they can be judged by other minds. These people tend to have a much higher sense of self-esteem and can be quite vain when taken to the extreme. Introverted people are the exact opposite. So while a hive-mind would appeal to the extroverted; solitude, meditation, and deep introspective thinking are activities most enjoyed by the introverted.

  • Time recently had a cover story on Kurzweil and his prediction of a singularity by 2045. The only problem for all these pipe dreamers is that nobody has a clue about how the brain works. The knowledge needed to interface directly with electronics in a meaningful way is not going to arrive anytime before the end of this century. Crude prosthetics for disabled people, yes, but nothing that would be of value to a normal person (enhanced memory, computation, seamless mind/machine interfacing) will be around in

  • by bugi ( 8479 )

    Please watch the movie Zardoz before pursuing this further.

  • Perhaps I'm just paranoid, but there are three things the mind allows us to do, think, act, and stay alive (involuntary reflexes maintaining the body).

    Now, in terms of thinking, this could allow other people to intentionally, uncontrollably interrupt my thoughts without first having direct physical access to me. I don't know about you guys, but I rely heavily on continuous thought, and can't do squat with discrete thought (think long-term focus vs. multitasking). Having an interface that can interrupt m

    • No worries. This sort of neural interface will never exist outside of a tech fetishist's wet dream. I wouldn't spend a lot of time worrying about it.

      I do hope some people, try, though, because that will be really, really funny.

  • Meow, meow, meow, meow.

  • Wow, but that's a lot of buzzword bullshit!

    I really have to get in on this futurist book scam.

  • What, no Cyberiad reference? Maybe it's folded into a reply or under my threshold...

  • 3am Taco craving? Or the number of amusing insecurities that I harbour?

    Seriously, my idle thoughts are like a 16 year old girl's Twitter.

  • Beowulf cluster of human brains.

  • There was a EP of SG1 with some called the link that was like this. []

    and there was a The Outer Limits EP with some that was like the SG1 link.called []

I've finally learned what "upward compatible" means. It means we get to keep all our old mistakes. -- Dennie van Tassel