Sunday, November 4, 2012

The Future is Now!

Dear Friends,

I present to you at no charge an exclusive look into the recent past, our present and near future as it may be. I am no mind reader nor savant of any kind. I cannot reliably prognosticate nor see into the future. I just read the writing writ upon the mists of Time as the river flows by.

Since the simultaneous rise of electronic computing, advances in modern prosthetics, medicine, surgery and brain science it has been a recently realizable dream to meld Human with machine. You encounter the present result each day when you notice an individual with a small neural implant on the back of his skull attached to a microphone in his ear. That part looks like a hearing aid. The implant’s interface to his brain looks like he’s pasted a quarter-sized piece of Silly Putty® to the left rear of his head, just above the hairline. He is a deaf person given the chosen gift of hearing by technology. He is a Cyborg; a Man Machine.

He is not alone. Today you are starting to see folks with funny looking glasses. They are blind but they can see by means of machine vision that communicates through digital to analog pulses to their Visual Cortex. It doesn’t work all that well yet, but it hold the promise of much better performance. Why settle for normal Human vision when you could toggle a switch to see like a butterfly or bee, see into the radio spectrum or perceive a night sky full of Gamma Ray Bursters making the best fireworks you could hope for?

Meanwhile, a lady in a wheelchair, a paraplegic, took the first sip of orange juice she’d had in thirty years without the help of an aide whom she communicated with only by blinking her eyes. She recently simply thought about having that beverage and a computer wired into her head told a disembodied robotic arm on a rolling table by her bed to give her some refreshment. It obeyed. She controlled a machine that, albeit temporarily, was part of her. She did it by wishing for a drink. That simple.

Well, it wasn’t really that simple. To get to this point of modest Human/Machine integration, a code had to be cracked. It’s the toughest code we know of this side of >Why and How Does Anything Exist?<. The code I refer to is the code of our most basic cerebral and sub-cerebral nervous functioning. It is the code clacking, gurgling and ticking behind our every physical and verbal expression, our very thoughts, both conscious and unconscious. A machine with such capacity would truly be a Mind Reader. Such machines have already been demonstrated in prototype to construct the words that a person is thinking and shine digital images of their visual imagination on fluorescing screens.

Flash forward to 2016. The United States unveils the federally mandated Mind Meters® to be installed in every airport, every ATM, every 7-11 and intersection where there is a stop light. Citizens can no longer get to the curb from the cab without having their minds scanned.

What sort of problems will pop up when brain scanners are perfected and installed on every corner. How will my nation’s economy and social fabric be ravaged as millions of folks from all walks of life leave their jobs to take online courses so that they might qualify as a Homeland Security Mind Readers and thus be able read the rampant pornographic thoughts of airline passengers and all the folks at banks or just walking down Main Street during lunch hour?

Surgeons will leave anesthetized patients in mid-appendectomy on the operating table. Lawyers and real estate speculators will leave money on the proverbial table to lunge at this new opportunity. The food service industry will become bereft of illegal immigrants working the dish washers as they flock toward the opportunity to find out what other illegal immigrants are really thinking about that skinny girl in the summer dress. “Is it what am I thinking or even dirtier?” Grandmothers will abandon their charges in bassinets to examine the secret thoughts of those swarthy fellows with their Mind Meters® as they also mine the imaginations of the very proper business man visualizing a lady’s underwear as she in turn tunes in a “suspect” for a reading of his response to another’s response to the response of another grooving to the spike heels of that “looker” as he ponders what’s on top of those long legs and her girlfriend monitors the entire situation. Teachers will ignore their classes while staring out the window to relentlessly scan the visual imaginations of folks on the town’s streets for signs of secret assignations underway while the kiddies are doodling on the margins of forty year old text books.

The economy will collapse, as will our culture, in a heaving sigh of an infinite loop consuming its own tail. No real work will get done. Children will be left unfed, ill educated and unattended. Every aspect of our civic life will be corroded. Commerce will sputter and belch and eventually swoon in a faint like a Victorian lady mortified that her bloomers were showing at the grand ball.

Oh, that has already happened. We don’t have to wait for 2016 and the perfection of Mind Meters®.

Hic Finis Est,