RE: Enhanced Senses

Billy Brown (
Thu, 20 May 1999 09:27:05 -0500

> Billy Brown wrote:
> "The simplest case would be something like increasing your range of
> hearing. To do that you essentially have to remove all of the brain
> mechanisms that handle sound processing, and replace them with an
> upgraded version that can handle a
> wider range of frequencies and a larger volume of data. That's a big
> job, but at least its confined to a single system."
> To increase your range of hearing, you could easily shift higher
> frequencies down into the audible range with a computerized
> hearing aid.

That doesn't accomplish the same result. If you take all the data from a broad-ranged hearing sense and squash it down into the normal human range, you will inevitably loose a lot of the information. You won't be able to hear the actual pitch of anything beyond the normal range, you won't be able to listen to all those different pitches at the same time, and you won't be able to hear patterns (like music) that occur across large frequency ranges.

As I mentioned in my post, this kind of approach is a good first step, and its all we can do with present technology, but it falls far short of what we ultimately want to achieve.

> With vision, the frequencies outside visual range could be shifted
> however one wanted and overlaid on the visual range frequencies, or a
> huge chunk of the EM spectrum could be compressed to fit in the visual
> range. Or any number of other options. As long as you have the equipment
> to detect the frequencies and to display visual information (and some
> kind of computing device), you can do this (the programming would be
> rather simple, I think).

Same problem. The human eye can only distinguish a few million colors. If you have good IR and UV sensors you're going to need several tens of millions of new shades, and they just don't exist. You're software will have to discard most of that information, and what you're left with will be some kind of "hot things glow red, UV sources glow blue" kind of color coding scheme - which is useful, but not nearly as good as real broad-spectrum vision.

> Although (as I have pointed out before) to take full advantage of any
> sensory enhancements, one must learn to process more sensory information
> per second. I have demonstrated (to myself, anyway) that one can do this
> deliberately by learning to focus more intently on the present sensory
> experience. Many others throughout history have confirmed this for
> themselves also. In fact, many martial arts disciplines spend a great
> deal of time on enhancing one's senses.

You can learn to pay more attention to your senses, which gives the subjective experience of receiving more input. You can't change the actual performance of the underlying hardware in your brain. The best you can do is make sure that you actually use all of the capacity you have - once you've done that, you're stuck until we get the technology to make improvements.

Billy Brown, MCSE+I