The modern world is one of fascinating technological innovations that seem to arrive on our doorsteps faster and faster each year. All one has to do is stop and smell the roses to see just how quickly our daily reality is changing.
Doesn’t it feel like it was just yesterday, when the VHS cassette was the main way to watch a movie? CD’s are even becoming obsolete, as the age of Netflix, and other service providers devour the old and usher in the new.
It is a known fact amongst those who study such trends that technological progression happens at an exponential rate.
Take the modern fighter jet for example. Travelling faster than the speed of sound, fifth-generation fighter jets, as they are referred to, are highly maneuvarable, stealth-capable war birds of terrible destruction. It was only 118 years ago, a single life for some, when we managed to achieve flight with a wooden flying machine powered by gasoline (and only for a mere 12 seconds!), so what will we achieve a hundred years from now?
Fighter jets aside, what we are seeing today is of an entirely different caliber, the sort that has the power to change our experience forever. Cybernetic implants, an idea that was once an imaginative thought in the mind of some science-fiction writer, have become an intimidating, yet intriguing possibility for the future of humanity.
Elon Musk, well known for his ambitious, almost unbelievable plans, recently announced that he and his team at Neuralink have developed an implant capable of detecting and encouraging electrical signals in the brain. Though it functions with limited capacity today, in the future, they hope to develop the technology so that it is capable of reading and writing neural signals, which would assist with medical issues that arise in the brain and spine. In the further future, the ultimate goal is to create a device that can integrate the human brain with a computer, a feat that many are reluctant to accept.
But should we be afraid? As we learn more and more about large companies covertly using our phones or other devices to gather data on us, it is of little surprise that some are having trouble adjusting to the idea of a cybernetic implant. But, as with all inventions, they have their positive uses, and their negative uses.
On a positive note, one day, this implant may be capable of increasing one’s mental capacities to that of a computer, by merging it with artificial intelligence. Much like in the Matrix, where Neo is seen “downloading” the ability to fight, so too could the future you, with the assistance of an implant, of course.
This is what Musk hopes to achieve. “Ultimately, we want to achieve a symbiosis with artificial intelligence.” He said at a conference showcasing Neuralink.
If you are skeptical of the idea, you are not alone. Nataliya Kosmina, a postdoctoral associate at MIT, said “As much time and effort as we’re all going to spend to make these kinds of devices and implants accessible and safe and put them out there, we would need to spend the same amount of time and energy on first, ethical issues, and second, privacy and security,”
What Musk plans to accomplish with his implant in the near future is to make it wireless, meaning that it could connect directly with your Iphone, for example. However, such a feature makes the implant vulnerable to hacking, and given it’s location (your brain) could lead to issues much more terrifying than a stolen nude photo.
But before your imagination starts running wild, lets calm things down a bit, and take a look at some less controversial implants.
The Ocumetics Bionic Lens, developed by Dr. Garth Webb of Ocumetics Technology Corp, is apparently capable of not only improving sight for the impaired, but also of advancing those with 20/20 vision to an even higher threshold of sight capabilities: over three times better! And it’s projected to be relatively inexpensive, at just 3200 dollars an eye.
That’s not all. Do you, or does someone you know, suffer from diabetes? How about the daily pain of having to check one’s blood-sugar levels, by the prick of a needle?
Not anymore! Researchers at MIT created a nanoparticle-infused ink that can be tattooed onto a patient’s skin and used to monitor blood-sugar levels painlessly (aside from getting the tattoo, that is!).
So new inventions are arriving every day, inventions that may save us, or destroy us. Like Morpheus once said to Neo, “The choice is yours.” Hopefully, we’ll use our innovative minds to direct humanity towards a utopian, not dystopian society; either way, who doesn’t love watching technology advance?