I’ve had some pretty crazy ideas for blog posts, and at one point I imagined how cool it would be to backup thoughts and ideas in the cloud instantly and directly from your brain (insert joke about “brainstorming”).I had this image in my brain of a person thinking so hard his thoughts escaped, only to be absorbed by a cloud— an actual cloud, not a data center. If humans learn to store data on molecular levels, data might just sit inside water molecules and clouds will literally be composed of data. When it rains, it’s like an instant file transfer.
Little did I know that as I considered these ideas, the technology to connect brains to the cloud was already being developed, though not in water molecule clouds, or moon-based data centers. A Tech Republic article claims that not only is the concept plausible, it will be fully developed within the next thirty years.
Inventor and futurist Ray Kurzweil is confident that in around thirty years, blood-cell sized computers will be integrated non-invasively into human brains, if you can believe it.
According to Kurzweil, his predictions thus far have been correct quite often, not counting near-misses like his prediction that people would be cruising in self-driving cars by 2009. Kurzweil expects that by the 2030s or 2040s, micro-computers embedded in the brain will work as an interface to a cloud of storage and processing power, like having around ten extra cortexes on-demand. Given his rate of success, it seems feasible. The type of data stored, and how the process would actually occur are not yet known.
With the onset of various wearable computers like Google Glass, it’s not unrealistic to imagine humans with computers imbedded in their flesh. We’ve already taken strides toward the technology with microchips implanted inside of our animals, and mechanized prosthetics—we might all be bionic men and women soon enough.
Kurzweil’s idea is interesting, but I’ve got a different theory. I’m not sure that connecting to the cloud via a chip in our brain is entirely realistic within thirty years, though maybe at some point farther in the future. As for now, I think wearable computers will start to proliferate, assuming the technology develops quickly enough to please discerning users. However, they may take some time to gain mainstream popularity.
After wearable computers become popular, the next obvious step is to embed various computer technologies into human flesh, and finalize the marriage of humans and technology by embedding our possessions into ourselves and becoming literally one with them.
Medical technology already puts all sorts of technical devices inside of humans, and think of the progress bionic artificial limbs are making. These are intended not to improve humans, but to keep them functioning as normal as possible, but that technology may someday be found in everyone to supplement their basic abilities.
People have a long history of spiking holes into themselves with needles only to plug them up again with various ornaments (I myself am guilty of this), so sticking a few microchips in our skin probably won’t seem like a big deal to many—at least as far as pain is involved. Some go so far as to imbed surgical steel pieces into their flesh for various body modification purposes, or even slice various parts of their skin to alter their physical appearance in strange and bizarre ways. Some even have embedded magnetics in their fingertips, giving them a sort of sixth sense that allows them to detect magnetic and electric energies around them, and others have tattoos that can be changed to suit mood or occasion.
Clearly, we see that humans are no strangers to embedding metal things in their bodies, and that technology continues to advance the methods by which embedding occurs. The only thing new about the concept would be the complexity of the embedded materials.
So once people have chips in their brains, what does that mean?
The scariest thought to me is the concept of artificial intelligence. I don’t mean inside of a C-3PO unit, I mean inside of a human. Theoretically, once humans do have technology that does allow them to connect to the internet with their minds, what’s to stop them from having instant access to all the knowledge in the world?
While we already have nearly all access to information we need with our phones and computers, a brain could be enhanced by a tiny computer that injects information directly into the brain, giving the outward appearance that the user has genuine intelligence when in fact the brain never had any of the knowledge before the bionic brain implant; the lines between genuine and artificial intelligence would be blurred, not only in robots, but in humans as well—a future where intelligence and information don’t matter because everyone has it.
This false intelligence could really only consist of facts and figures—book-smarts—but would ruin the entire concept of learning. Intelligence would still exist in the form of creativity and art and perhaps be enhanced to some degree by artificial intelligence.
These are, of course, only speculations at this point and only the future will tell what sort of technology we’ll incorporate into our bodies, though some venture to guess that embedded LED lights could be used to implant a wrist watch directly into a person’s wrist. These implants wouldn’t be without risks like battery leakage, and bio-incompatibility. If the embedded materials were rejected by the body, a person could have serious medical complications.
Kurzweil has many other predictions that would in some cases be extremely helpful to human beings, like his prediction that all students will have access to computers by 2019, and some a bit frightening like pin-sized cameras being hidden everywhere.