In a creative session at Product Camp Berlin (2010), our group came up with the idea for a brain chip as a product that would index your memory. I wasn’t aware at the time the work already being done in this area, but the idea did spark an interest in cybernetics, cyborgs, transhumanism and more importantly an additional consideration in the general reception of technology products that interface with, or are embedded in humans. I started reading books and collecting articles in this field as a side-line interest.
Eventually this lead to the idea of a proposed lecture/discussion topic – but due to work commitments, life in general it never went much farther then the outline thesis below. This blog is my new budding commitment to delve deeper into the topic and also the role of technology, bio-tech, nano-tech, A.I and robotics on our humanistic future. It goes without saying I’m an absolute novice in this field, so please feel free to correct me, inform me, contest me… [but please don’t bring up the word ‘privacy’!]
“The fashionable ideology that “artificial” lacks the inherent goodness of “natural” is an appealing, but hopelessly simplistic notion of the intellectually chic.” Syd Mead – artist, futurist, illustrator, and conceptual designer
Have you ever noticed that science fiction has a tendency to become reality? Some people explain this as prescient thinking – perhaps what is considered imagined is really a glimpse into the future.
Once such case is humans merging with technology to enhance or repair us. This is already happening. But the negative possibilities that could arise from a technology, which results in the metamorphosis of the flesh and blood of homo-sapiens with cyborg mechanisms is an advancement many fear. But is this is something to be feared? Could or should it not be embraced? Is it possible for us humans to find ways to accept these technological possibilities by offering them as marketed product solutions to everyday problems?
One example is a solution to recall – You never have to lose another good memory!
The product – Total Recall It
Imagine if you could index everything inside your brain. Recall a thought, a moment, a sensation or nugget of information instantaneously. Search your memory, all of it, as simply as typing a query into Google.
Hyperthymesia (autobiographical memory) and eidetic (photographic memory) recall are natural human abilities to store and retrieve information. Present in only the select few, these brain functions are super memory abilities which enable people to draw – at will – on their vast collection of knowledge seamlessly.
Total Recall It – a silicon chip, implanted at the brain’s cortex, would enable anyone to have an enhanced mnemonic mind – recall anything from simultaneous, non conscious tagging of memories at the point they are made; be it visual, kinaesthetic or auditory.
Individualism in humans is inherent to memories. The way we memorise and interpret is what factors our personality, everything from personal experience to how we recall historical events – it is our brains documentary. But we also forget things; they get lost or are buried to deep to retrieve.
Total Recall It does not create memories, nor manipulate them. It just allows you to recall them instantaneously. It automatically tags each memory as it is created so you can accurately recall large amounts of images, sounds and references in unlimited volume just by stimulating your natural recall process with an artificial tagging system. The Dewy Decimal System of your life history.
The chip works synonymously with your brain’s ‘hippocampus‘ the region where memories are stored. There is no change in this system, no replacement of the natural functionality of your brain but rather utilises science and technology to enable better use of it. It’s an enhancement!
Enhancing your own knowledge by search retrieval
Non-conscious tagging indexes memory
Encoding to ‘suppress’ negative emotional experiences
Scientific & Medical
As humans get older the brain loses the ability to encode information effectively
Connected memory experience, better understanding of emotional responses
Treatments for; Amnesia & memory loss, Alzheimer’s, ‘forgetfulness’, dementia
Recall, along with encoding and storage, is one of the three core processes of memory. Our brains function in many ways like a computer, yet there is a general fear of technology merging with organic elements. Many questions arise around ethical or privacy implications from decoding brain activity. Outside the scientific world, generally the reaction to the use of such artificial enhancements is considered invasive and non-organic – “messing with mother nature”.
As Syd Mead states: The fashionable ideology that “artificial” lacks the inherent goodness of “natural” is an appealing, but hopelessly simplistic notion of the intellectually chic. Artifice is the result of a deliberate intent to make. Nature also “makes” things, using a set of basic building blocks common throughout the universe. Exchanging infinite time for deliberate design, nature has ingeniously built plants, planets, galaxies and unimaginable constructs which seem to structure the universe itself.
What we call “natural” is simply the result of whatever set of rules nature has followed in fashioning our observable reality. On planet Earth, nature has manipulated the common elements to fashion everything from bacteria to the molten core of the planet. Discoveries in the “nano” technologies of bio, molecular, and micro engineering will re-edit the nomenclature of “natural” versus “unnatural”, blurring if not erasing the line of distinction between “machine” and “organism”, “natural” and “unnatural”, “God-given” and “man-made”.
What if the acceptance of such technological advancements could be adopted by the general population without fear and speculation of intent? Or, remove the foundation of fear on the basis of it being a desirable, and readily available, product?
Total Recall It in reaching the mass market, ‘you simply must have one!’ – as with the adoption of the iPhone!
Making a difference
Scientists are already developing brain chips for numerous purposes. UK company BT set up a program in 1996 ‘Soul Catcher’ which aims to have a ready-to-use brain chip by 2025. A chip that records your life through your eyes. That case maybe one vision of the future but the reality is technology has already merged with humans, there are many scientific projects that combine us ‘god-made’ individuals with ‘man-made’ processes and devices. Humans have come to react and grasp new technologies with more openness. Our propensity for interpretation has developed alongside man’s development of the world around us. The brain may be the final frontier: Total Recall It is a theoretical product – yet should we not all be better prepared where technology is going and what it can do for us?
Think about it – would you consider it if it was already available on Amazon?