There are many tech companies are the world who are starting to experiment and develop technology that allow for the direct interfacing of our minds and computers. Elon Musk is working on it. Our national laboratories and research universities are working on it. With the host of actors involved and the trends of technology it is almost inevitable that if it is truly possible then we will achieve it by the end of our life times, and possibly well before that time arrives.
These technologies do not have to be a bad thing. There are already many related discoveries that are functionally improving the world around us. Take for instance the breakthroughs in linking prosthetic limbs to our nerve endings for more natural control. They aren’t perfect but they are improving. I can conceive of a world where these technologies could end the need for schools, where we could directly download the knowledge and skills to be able to practice any career we would like. Maybe even instantly master and entire field of study via direct download and then contemplating upon it.
Now lets change gears for just a moment. We are, I think, familiar with the meme-theory that we all live within a computer simulation of something else. It was even the story of the smash hit movie The Matrix. I don’t personally lend much credence to it. It’s just now compatible with my actual belief set, but it does make for very fun and compelling imagination fodder. I was thinking about this over the weekend however and something occurred to me. We might not live in the Matrix yet, but what if we are creating it for ourselves as we speak?
We know that humans are naturally social creatures. We all know how much we love social media. I myself practically live on twitter in my free time. Whats our world going to look like once we can tweet, post to Facebook, or browse Youtube just by flexing our minds? I am not saying that we will have digital avatars who literally walk around the internet or some such thing. We won’t need it.
IF automation theorists are right and we won’t need to necessarily spend our time working in the future we could spend our entire lives on intellectual and social projects with out any effort beyond the direction of our minds towards the goal.
Sounds pretty cool right? I tend to think so. The problem arises however that this functionally amounts to plugging ourselves into the matrix. This is what that could look like in real life. If we can access all of society with just a thought the need to actually socialize with our “meat suits” disappears in a wisp of smoke.
Now I am not actually some sort of Luddite. I look forward to these innovations. I would just take a moment to caution everyone, remember that there is a real world of real phenomena all around us. Even if you can visit anyone just by sending a thought based chat message to them, that won’t make actual conversations obsolete. As of right now we are only blessed with one physical life, don’t take it for granted.