DARPA's Ex-Leader's Speculative Dream of Mind-Melding Empathy - The Atlantic

Mandated neuroenhancements certainly seem creepy to me!

But imagine if you could learn a new language as fast as a 6-year-old, she continued. Or imagine if you could experience a whole new palette of colors or a fourth physical dimension in space.

Im not even sure what that means, but I would most definitely want to experience a fourth physical dimension in space.

But then she delivered the true utopian dream:

Imagine if we could connect among ourselves in new and deeper ways and imagine if those connections happened in a way that gave us so much empathy and understanding of each other that we could put our minds together, literally, to take on some of the worlds hardest problems.

She did not expound on the image, but one imagines shes thinking about a kind of direct brain-to-brain interface.

DARPA has, after all, invested a lot in direct electronic brain interfaces. In one research program, theyre working on intuitive neural interfaces for controlling prosthetic limbs. In another, theyre creating an implantable neural interface able to provide advanced signal resolution and data-transfer bandwidth between the brain and electronics. The goal there is to create a translator between the electrochemical language used by neurons in the brain and the ones and zeroes that constitute the language of information technology.

And once youve got intuitive neural controls and a translator that lets you send brain signals into computers and back again, it does not seem an incredible leap to hook two (or a million?) humans up together.

If we could get to that future, we would look back at todays reality and it would look like black-and-white, Prabhakar said. It would look like flatland.

Its a pretty fascinating speculative fiction. Compelling, perhaps, but also repulsive. And, if we can use recent history as any guide, wiring humans together in ever tighter communication loops doesnt always turn out so well.

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