RE: Effects of Enhanced Senses for Designer Bodies

Chris McCarley (
Mon, 17 May 1999 12:11:25 -0500

> From: Natasha Vita-More <>
> Subject: Effects of Enhanced Senses for Designer Bodies

> What types of brain enhancements might be designed to
> deal with the
> relaying of new information gained from enhancing the
> senses (especially
> smell and hearing). How will the brain's cognitive
> capabilities sift
> through the enhanced information and utilize expanded
> sensorial capabilities?

This is an interesting question, and I would also pose the flipside question: how is our intellectual and spiritual growth impacted as we progress to an operational mode of doing more and more filtering and less "immersive" processing of stimuli? I.e. will we become more efficient information processors at the expense of deeper meaning and understanding? If this is true, and we become wide but shallow, it would almost certainly affect our interactions.

It's not that I believe these two "modes" can't exist together in an intelligent being. I think it would be quite effective to learn first principals and then subsequently be able to filter out the the vast amounts of redundant and useless information. Unfortunately, it is all too common to go for the quick fix and forego the deeper understanding.

Getting back to the original question, it would seem the choices for sensory expansion are:

  1. Enhance existing sensory capability, e.g. hearing more in the existing audible range.
  2. Extend capabilities to other parts of the spectrum for an existing sensory capability, e.g. seeing in infrared.
  3. Add an essentially new sensory capability, e.g. ?

For choices 2 and 3, there is also the choice of mapping the out-of-band stimuli into the existing range or sequestering an unused (hopefully) part of the brain and training it for the new sensory system.

> What types of intelligent agents will assist us in
> using enhanced
> sensorial information to discern our environments more
> intelligently, and

This would be more inline with the former, i.e. the agents would work with the augmentation hardware to filter the information and map it into the baseband of an existing sensory system.

> how will this affect our communication skills? Is it
> important to upgrade
> the job of the early primitive brain so that it works
> nicely in conjunction
> with enhanced senses to give it more spin, and what might

This would be more inline with the latter, where the brain would get more raw input but would have to process it "natively".

A cognitive enhancement I can think of that would cross various categories is the capability to visualize effectively in multiple dimensions.

> Is 'gut feeling' important in the advancement of ourselves?
> (Instinct/Intuition)

As I understand it there is still a school of thought that maintains that all cognitive thought is essentially retrospect. In this case everything is "intuition", some just gets explained immediately afterwards. Regardless of whether you believe that, it can probably be agreed that the 'gut instinct' is the result of a subconscious result that has not been adequately explained by the conscious. It may be:

- A hardwired reaction
- An emotion-based response
- A logical conclusion that has not been effectively elucidated.

In each case, the result may be valid or invalid and useful or not useful. It is also highly possible they really aren't distinct mechanism of the subsconcious, just have different origins or labels.


Chris McCarley
C++ and Voyager ORBs
ObjectSpace, Inc.