Re: Enhanced Senses (Tangent)

Paul Hughes (
Fri, 21 May 1999 12:15:27 -0700

"O'Regan, Emlyn" wrote:

> I love the idea of being able to tailor your senses as you see fit in
> real time. Experiencing the world primarily through tactile senses, or
> sight, adding "erotic sense" to the way you experience the mundane -
> Fantastic!
> If we are all tailoring our senses independently, choosing our view of
> reality to match our moods, personalities, utilitarian necessity, or
> whatever reasons, we will find it very difficult to exchange information
> and ideas. Say that you are seeing infrared, for example, and someone
> else is mapping visual range onto their olfactory senses. "That guy
> looks a bit hot, with some interesting cool patches around the
> extremities, greens and blues, don't you think so?" "No, I think he's
> saltier than green, maybe a touch of lime." Or "XDFFrwe eedtfrr fdfsg
> dcdsfe dees sa #$%" Or ". *FLASH* Remember!"

He he. I like your style - lots of fun to read.

Your right in concluding that increasing customization of personal experience is a vector away from a consensus protocol. On the other hand, these capabilities assume increasing nanotechnological maturity, which would increase our capacity to swap information and experience directly without the need for language or any other second-level abstraction. Will these two opposing vectors balance each other or will one accelerate faster than another? I think it all comes down to each individual along a spectrum of socialization just as it does now. Some people like to socialize more than others. We have lots of communities which have developed a consensus, sharing values, slang, jargon, likes and dislikes, yet who have difficulty in communicating with other communities. I think the same will occur in the future only to much larger extent and with vastly greater diversity - a post-human equivalent of the cambrian explosion. I see billions of increasingly unique dividuals, with the majority of them hooking up into a wide assortment of transient adhoc communities based on aesthetics and/or utility. These communities could last a few seconds or could go on for centuries. Other factors determining the nature of these mind-networks would be inevitable economic constraints based on limited material or information resources. As someone pointed out earlier, not everyone can have a Jupiter brain and stay in this solar system. So the next question becomes who gets what materials, and who is forced to leave the solar system to find bounty elsewhere?

Such a competitive system would seem to favor the forming of increasingly larger mind-networks. Such mind-networks would require an increasingly universal set of protocols to allow the largest number of diverse individuals to communicate effectively. The new book 'Earthweb' is about all of the people of Earth coming together through the super-Internet to collaborate on a project requiring the unique talents of each individual. Such large universal networks obviously have an advantage in this respect. A lesson from ecology is a network that fosters diversity would also seem to have an advantage over one that requires too much conformity. It's been the biodiversity of Earth's past that increased its odds successfully of surviving a series of cataclysmic events.

To conclude, it would be in your own aesthetic self-interest to increasingly customize your experience. It would be in the Networks best interest to develop a protocol universal enough to incorporate you. A win-win situation if you ask me.

Paul Hughes