Hacking the brain – Trend #6 of 8 from SXSW

 

Tech to enhance our brains

We will be using technology to enhance the function of our brains. Mode enhancement and memory enhancement will be major areas of development. We already use it for people with Parkinson or with a depression. People that are depressed – finding themselves in a cloud of darkness – get an implant in the operating room – afterwards they feel like blinds have been lifted from their eyes. That’s a wow moment.

The 21st century is going to be the century of the brain

– Jordan Amadio, Founder of NeuroLaunch

A brain network – connected to the cloud

As with AI, enhancement of our brains has important ethical implications that we must understand and address. We will be able to connect human brains to build a brain network – and connect this network with an AI cloud. Our brains can be turned on and turned off in the future. Probably this will not will happen in 5 years.

Cognitive enhancement of our brains – a biological part or a tool?

We already have a brain cognitive enhancement tool – the written language. The letter area back in the brain –gets activated when we read. A smartphone + Google is also a brain cognitive enhancement, we can find information that we don’t have or cannot remember.

Does it matter if its biological part of you or if it is a tool? We have used glasses for years to enhance our vision. When do tools become a part of us? When do tools become our brain cognitive enhancements. There is a lot of interesting research showing that compared to future brain enhancements – drugs are not very dramatic. The device intervention will be effective, maybe more than pharmaceutical intervention. Cognitive enhancement has been around for a long time. But we tend to not think about the old ones.

Think to text

It will be possible for us to think something and transfer that thought to a device. Before we say something, there is a stage in the brain where we could instead of texting with a thumb or finger – or saying it out loud – think about a sentence that we transfer directly to a device. Facebook launched that they will be able to develop this device – in the speed of 100 word a minute. Today it takes 8 words a minute – and a brain implant to make this happen. We need to speed up to be able to put 100 words a minute.

Our thoughts go public

It is scary to think that all our thoughts will be made available. But in fact, it doesn’t need to be that scary! It is possible to choose at what “level” we distribute our thoughts depending on where they occur in our brains. We can choose to share it at the level of speech – or just before – which means that it is basically the same as if we would say it.

Maybe we could share it at different levels depending on the relationship? It might be a relationship status mark when we choose to share our thoughts at an earlier level… Facebook announced that they will be able to develop a device where your brain can text a message. We can already do this technically. Now we need to figure out how to regulate this. The major problem is how reading our minds will be controlled. When is you thought ready for publication? Is it when it is sent to your speech? Not every thought should be published. Well, we know someone in Washington DC who already let’s all his thoughts be published instantly.


DID YOU KNOW?

Neuralink is a neurotechnology company founded by Elon Musk and 8 others. It is developing ultra-high bandwidth implantable brain-machine interfaces to connect humans and computers called Brain–Computer Interfaces (BCIs). It aims to make devices to treat serious brain diseases in the short-term, with the eventual goal of human enhancement.


Individuals respond very differently to “brain hacking”

One of the problems we have seen when experimenting with technology to enhance the brain is that the responses are very different from person to person. It is hard to get a convincing proof that it actually works. And due to that, it’s hard to sell – “20% certainty that it will work for you…” is in most cases too uncertain for a person to even try. Jordan Amadio, Founder of NeuroLaunch tried out a lifestyle device with electronic doses to his brain. He could choose between a relaxation application or an activity application. He explained his own reaction: “I was kind of jetlagged. Afterwards I couldn’t eat for 36 hours, and couldn’t sleep for 36 hours. This shows how fragile the brain system is… They have stopped using this lifestyle device.” In time, if these devices are good and safe enough we will use this technology as consumer goods. These products will collect data, in a very deep sense, about us all the time. So beware.

 


 

 

 

 

SXSW is one of the biggest digital conferences in the world, and a global meeting place for the world’s most innovative technology companies and people interested in how disruption can transform their business and everyday lives. The event takes place during during 10 days each year and this year Cartina had the chance to be part of it.

This series consists of 8 global mega trends that business leaders, experts, innovators and disruptors talked about during the days in Austin. If you want to read the full report, click the button above and we will email it to you.

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