Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Hypothetical/Science Fiction Brain-Computer Convergence

The following is a Science Fiction, take on a possible evolutionary path of the human brain.

In some readings I’ve done, I’ve learned a bit about the use of neuronal implants and their potential to give paralyzed patients the use of prosthesis. I suggest that their potential goes far beyond corrective abilities. We have computers now that work faster, and perform more computations per second then the most ambitious human could perform in a lifetime. The convergence of human consciousness and computer technology, it seems to me, too exciting and extravagant an idea to look past.

This conjunction has the potential to create the next evolutionary step of human brain function, and there are many possible paths. For instance; let us take an extreme idea as presented vaguely above; the integration of electrical components directly into the human brain. If electrode implants can one day be permanently wired into our brains, then we could increase brain function and communication. This may someday be as simple as implanting some sort of tiny motherboard in the mid-brain, which would send signals to more places, in less time, and in much greater quantity. The added quantity alone would most likely increase ability in whatever activity was being performed.

The next idea is slightly less extreme but the potential outcomes are along the same lines. This would be a non-invasive neurological interpreter, such as a head band, or more likely an ugly bulky helmet. This helmet would do the same thing as the implanted mother board would, but from a non-permanent external site. Persons using this helmet could wear it when, say practicing the piano. The helmets electrodes would, theoretically, read and interpret signals from the area of the motor cortex representing the fingers and send them much more rapidly than our brain has the ability to, to necessary locations involved in learning such an exercise. This would, again theoretically, turn every hour of piano practice into a five hour learning session. I would also argue that, though the helmet itself is not permanent, the effects of the increased activity would be due to the literal change in brain architecture. Anyone who owned a brain helmet (A Thinking Cap) would improve performance of every feasible activity; at let us say to use continuous figures, five times the speed previously thought possible.

These are just a few, limited examples of the possibilities our brains have in association with the advancement of computers. Science Fiction very often becomes non-fiction.


  1. In a different cognitive science course that I am taking, we learned about Anosognosia which is where people are in denial of thier paralysis and actually believe that whichever section of the body that is paralyzed really is not. In the first paragraph you mentioned prosethis for those with paralyisis, do you think that this would be benificial even for this with this particular disorder?

  2. Do you think Integration of electrical components into the brain is goal we should be trying to achieve? Do you see it's use in a day to day average Joe kind of way or more limited?

  3. In the readings that you have done about BCI, have you come across an ETA for when any of this might actually be possible or is this evolutionary step still deep into the future?


  4. While extreme, your ideas seem great. Technological breakthroughs like this would change the way we did everything. Do you beleive that similar technology to what you spoke about is possible in the future?

  5. Reading this post reminded me of the performing artist, Stelarc. Stelarc integrates technology with the human body to go beyond the constraints of our physical selves. Stelarc has surgically placed a third ear on his forearm that has a wireless connection to the internet and transmits audio, he refers to it as his "internet organ". Do you think that this idea of artificial evolution could play a role in the future?