brain augmentation (was "a new thread")

From: William Kitchen (
Date: Sat May 13 2000 - 03:01:01 MDT

> Think of it as a client, or interface, into the microprocessor's
> "human" API. The point is not to augment the brain to be able to
> handle computer instructions, but rather to augment it for more
> efficiect bidirectional communication with the
> aforementioned computer(s).

The idea of brain augmentation via computer is something that has
interested me since I was a teenager. Beyond the practical issue
of how to achieve such a brain/computer interface, I'm curious
what applications the members of this list might imagine for such
a device.

Despite the time I've spent speculating about this, I can't help
feeling that my ideas about it are really pretty short sighted,
really just improvements of the same things we do now, and that
the real "killer apps" will be much harder to predict.

Here are some ideas that come to mind:

A "math coprocessor" for the brain.

An accurate data storage system that, while probably not as
extensively cross-linked as biological memory, would have the
advantage of not being subject to the well known distortions of
biological memory. Combining the brain's remarkable ability to
find connections between events (for example, remembering an
event that happened around the same time as another one, or an
event that involved the same people, or the same location, or
similar outcome, etc.), with the ability to then retrieve an
accurate record, would be a very useful capability. This might
work something like a minidisc recorder, with a relatively small
buffer that records sensory input continually, committing the
data to the larger long-term storage only when you make a
conscious decision to do so. This way you can capture the event
that triggered the decision to record, as long as it is recent
enough to still be in the short term buffer. "Making a mental
note" would become much more trustworthy. And hopefully such
ability might inspire a shift in education, away from acquiring a
collection of facts and methods, focusing instead on why the
methods work, how the facts became known, and how to generalize
this understanding in order to solve new problems.

"Telepathic" communication, by very practical, reliable, and
purely non-mystical means.

Interface to artificial sense organs, such as IR cameras, radio
receivers, xray detectors, etc.

GPS positioning, so you always know where you are (at least when
on earth). You could then navigate better than gueese flying
south for the winter, with no external equipment.

A constantly running "backup" of the brain's state, for emergency
uploading purposes. So you could survive events that telomere
repair or other longevity methods cannot save you from, like
plane crashes or skiing accidents.

Hmm.. These would be great to have, but surely there must be
other, more profound applications. Any ideas?

                                        William Kitchen

The future is ours to create.

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