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The world might be getting brain implants soon – can you handle it?


Based on the most recent advances in artificial intelligence and robotics technology, it’s becoming quite clear that the era of the brain-controlled implant (BCI) is upon us. BCIs are said to be next-level devices that are going to replace current standard smartphones and other mobile computers, granting humans the ability to perform many smartphone tasks simply by using their brains.

It may sound like science fiction, but researchers from all over the world are slowly but surely turning it all into reality. And when that happens, don’t you think you should be prepared? This is the question posed in a piece titled, “Brain implants are happening — are you ready for yours?” and published recently in TheNextWeb.com. In it, the author argues that the world ought to be more informed about what exactly having BCIs entails, and how much of an impact it can have on human lives.

In case you think the existence of BCIs won’t change things much at all, as if they were just another type of gadget that can be bought and sold freely with little to no regard for their consequences, the author lays out his thoughts on them quite clearly:

“The introduction of brain implants that we normal people could buy at the mall will open a Pandora’s box of possibilities,” he wrote. “It’s one of those technological leaps that makes you wonder if our future is going to be heaven or hell.”

In the author’s view, having BCIs as a normal part of your daily life could effectively get rid of a number of what he calls “non-algorithmic-generated characteristics” such as mystery, serendipity, and surprise for you. Even free will could end up being lost and forgotten in a world that can quickly be ruled by interconnected “smart” machines that are first implemented to augment normal humans. (Related: New brain implants are so microscopic, you won’t even know that you’ve been implanted.)

According to Marshall McLuhan, a world-famous philosopher and futurist, every extension of man can be considered an amputation in some other area or capability as well. For instance, the ability to simply Google things in order to find out more information about them instead of relying on your own memory – or someone else’s for that matter – gives people the power to become knowledgeable in many subjects, thought not by using their own brains in the traditional sense. And if smartphones and other such gadgets have allowed that kind of thing to happen now, BCIs may be even more advanced.

Before BCIs become widely accepted, many questions need to be answered. “Assuming that the benefits of these technologies are so plentiful, will we be able to find a good job without a BCI?,” asked the author. “Will we be able to opt out without becoming useless, like someone who insists on banging away on a typewriter or sending telegrams instead of using a computer?”

To make matters somewhat worse, having access to BCIs could even turn out to be a privilege. Particularly due to their potential exponential impact on learning and cognitive ability, which will likely prompt parents to make the decision to install BCIs on their own children’s brains for the kids before they even understand what those are. “This would generate lifelong differences in productivity, wages and opportunity,” the author speculates, “dividing society from birth into two classes – the upgraded and those left behind.”

Though they may be dangerous, there’s no need to prevent BCIs entirely. All that’s necessary, in the author’s mind, is for people to have a better understanding of what they’re really getting into when BCIs become commonplace throughout the world. As the saying goes, with great power, comes great responsibility. So it’s best to regulate such revolutionary technologies as BCIs as early as possible.

Find out more about the latest studies involving the human brain in Brain.news.

Sources include:

TheNextWeb.com

NDS.OX.ac.uk

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