I’ve got implants on my mind today. Maybe it's due to the increase of electrical pulses that seem to be taking over my so-called body. Sometimes, I wonder if others experience this sensation in the same way that I do. Could it be as a result of the technology that surrounds me? Or, perhaps it’s just that time of year again?
The implications of technology on the human brain is a subject that I cogitate regularly, especially post-Black Friday. I guess it's a reflection on the savagery of human consumption for discounted tech. But, am I technologically hindered by my bank account?
I hate to admit it, but Black Mirror, every human’s favorite near-future TV series of thought experiments, is able to evaluate this idea, especially the show's Christmas special, aptly titled, White Christmas.
White Christmas certainly hasn’t come to pass. Indeed, technologically it seems Charlie Brooker was thinking of the implications of Google Glass more than other recent implant technologies – it was three years ago when Glass was relevant. How time flies.
Another episode, The Entire History of You, looked at the idea of implants for real-time recording, allowing one to review their own life, a kind of Facebook timeline for the mind.
You’ve been Zuckerberg-ed!
But, it's crucial for both scenarios to reflect on the arrow of time, or, Time’s Arrow. How would humanity stand to gain, or lose, if the experience of time could be slowed down, such as in White Christmas? Or, indeed, go back and revisit our memories in crystal clear clarity?
However, I think the question is more than the experience of time for a single person because if such neural implant tech should come to light, the timeframe in question would be much bigger, and much more radical, than those posited by the TV show. This technology would reach into every corner of human knowledge, in every temporal direction. All at once, in your mind, in the blink of an eye.
We are all familiar with the idea of humans merging with machines from the premise of Sci-fi, but of course, since a couple of generations now, we have already been placing technology into our bodies, from pacemakers to electronic tagging devices.
Descartes, possibly the godfather of the Mind-Body distinction-cum-conundrum located the soul in the pineal gland at the brain's third cerebral ventricle. Since then, a lot of progress has been made in understanding the vastly complex, extremely energy efficient and organic computer system inside each of your skulls. Seeing as computers are becoming more compact in size and their processing power is growing exponentially, it's plausible that one day a machine could emulate the human brain and body.
Futurists, such as Ray Kurzweil, have long since truly believed that the time is approaching for nanobots to intercede our bodies’ digestive and endocrine systems. Personally, I’m not interested in imagining what kind of “cyborgs” there will be in the future – but more in the interconnection between brain and technology.
Will physical operating systems be a thing of the past, or will I be operating my own system? Well, that's for the future to decide.