The “neuro” and “bio” based technological advancements of the last few decades have been so profound and rapid that the experience of humanity, as we know it, will forever be changed.
Let’s start with biotechnology. Developments in this field include advancements in the regeneration of limbs, teeth, and organs. Although most research is still rudimentary; it is very conceivable that in a few decades, you could replace your kidney with a fresh new “petri-dish” kidney.
Or perhaps you may be able to grow a new limb. A recent research study, in the prestigious journal Science, details how researchers identified a “DNA switch” that enables animals to regrow entire portions of their bodies. This switch is an important finding that could one day pave the way to our human ability to regenerate lost limbs.
In neuro-technology research, the Donoghue Lab at Brown University has been specializing in decoding human movement. Scientists have created a brain-computer interface (BCI) technology that allows people with paralysis to control robotic arms through thought alone. Imagine making cursor movements on a tablet just by thinking about it. No need to imagine, they are doing it.
“ WE CAN REPLACE OUR BODIES WITH TECHNOLOGY ”
If you think sharing posts and photos is fun – just wait. According to Mark Zuckerberg, we will one day be able to share “full sensory and emotional experiences.” Facebook is also working on BCI and mind-reading technology; non-invasive sensors that measure brain activity at high resolutions. This BCI technology may one day decode language-based brain signals in real-time. The mindreading technology could allow people to communicate with each other by reading minds (this may play havoc on our already high divorce rate). Zuckerberg has suggested that telepathy is the “ultimate communication technology.” Yikes, Facebook is developing the ability to read minds. Their execs are probably salivating at the data-gathering possibilities.
The worldwide, scientific research that is currently being worked on in the field of neuro-technology opens possibilities for the future that are nothing short of astounding. Consider this, based on the rapid acceleration of neuro-technology after living a long, robust life, it is possible that many of the children born today will die as cyborgs. An evolved human “hybrid” of biology and machine may be the next step in human evolution.
In 1960, when scientists Manfred Clynes and Nathan S. Kline coined the term Cyborg (cybernetic organism), it was the lofty idea born from space exploration and science fiction movies. Today, the concept of a cybernetic organism with enhanced functions as a result of using integrated artificial technology is a reality. Neuroscientists and computer engineers are working on creating new versions of humanity.
Many believe that human and machine integration is inevitable, including Yannick Roy. Yannick is the Director of NeuroTechX, an international neuro-tech organization that supports community-based neuro-tech exploration. As a proponent of using neuro-technology to solve human problems, Yannick is excited by the future possibilities to increase his memory and mental capacities. He looks forward to the day when he can put a chip into his brain:
“Now is the first time we can reverse engineer ourselves, that we can modify ourselves. That was never possible. No species has ever transformed itself. We can replace our bodies with technology.”
During my interview with Yannick at one point in the conversation, I had a deeply profound, slightly disturbing personal revelation… it’s not a matter of IF humans will become cyborgs (or some version thereof); it’s a matter of WHEN.
A new age dawns, one that points towards humans no longer being a strictly biological species. Elon Musk thinks that human beings will need to evolve beyond our AI (Artificial Intelligence) counterparts. He is convinced AI will one day become “more intellectually advanced” than humans; surpassing the biological functions of us mere mortals. Musk says that we will need to evolve our capabilities to “communicate directly with machines, or risk irrelevance.” His research teams are working on neural lacing: which would serve as “a layer of artificial intelligence inside the brain.” The lacing can be implanted through veins and arteries. Travelling to the brain through the bloodstream, the technology would create a cortical interface. The supposition is that one day, these “cranial computers” could merge us with digital intelligence.
And so it begins…