Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Cyborg 1.0 (Day 3, ICOT)

Cyborg 1.0. That's the label for Kevin Warwick, who put a computer chip in his arm, connecting his nervous system to a computer, the Web and another nervous sytem! This allows him to control robots with his brain and communicate 'invisibly' brain-to-brain with another human being.

The implications are tremendous:
  • we're closer to a 'cure' for brain diseases like Parkinson's and Alzheimer's (Warwick showed a video of a Parkinson's disease patient who, when stimulated via electrodes, actually got up from his chair, walked faster than he previously could, and even performed a small jingle!)

  • can education be Matrix-like, where skills are downloadable? (Warwick explained that, yes, theoretically, entire neural archtypes can be transferred; on the other hand, just because you possessed, say, Tiger Wood's neural structure - although what this would consist of is another black box altogether - that wouldn't necessarily mean you could win the U.S. Open because you'd also require his physique, etc.)

  • what about identity, free-will and consciousness? if someone else could tap into your brain and nerves, could that imply a potential loss of self-determination (a'la Being John Malkovich and similar super-suggestive mechanisms)
Warwick also made a fascinating point about neural implants enabling the human brain to access dimensions we previously couldn't: infra-red, ultra-sound, ultra-violet, x-rays, etc. Our five senses miss out on 90% of the sensory dimension!

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