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A plausible first step to developing all these whiz-bang implants...
Telepathy? Completely immersive VR? Permanent inclusion in the collective group mind?
We're there in under ten years.
We already know that Emory University is perfecting implants that allow stroke survivors or others afflicted with paralysis the ability to control a computer mouse with their
We also know that retinal implants, in some research, allow visual images in pixellized form to be converted into electronic impulses to go to the brain. Right now the resolution is terrible (between 900 and 5000 pixels, depending on the study), but continuing advances could bring the total picture scanned up to VGA-quality within a few years.
So before the end of the decade, combine them. Use the same technology that allows the tiny implanted cameras to convert their data to a form the optic nerve carries, and stick the output from a computer monitor into the optic nerve. For that matter, allow the chips in the eye to continue recording the world, and feed that into the computer as a background video input. Now, you've got your favorite OS plugged into your eyeballs.
At the same time, the descendant of the little glass cones used in the Emory study replaces the computer mouse, and you can operate the computer on your retinas using the thought patterns of your brain. Continuing minaturization allows the CPU to be implanted in your body like a pacemaker, and wireless transmission to an outside server takes care of connectivity and storage issues.
Since all these technologies are already in existence, a really dedicated team might even be able to pull it all together in five years or less. Links to follow...
Emory University Study
A press release from the team heading up the thought-controlled mouse experiment. [shkspr, Dec 07 2000, last modified Oct 21 2004]
One of many news stories regarding advances in retinal implants. [shkspr, Dec 07 2000, last modified Oct 21 2004]
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||It's a long, long way from
mice to actual "thought reading",
"telepathy", or "completely
||If introduced at an early enough age, it seems likely that any input directly into the brain can be integrated into the consciousness. Wire a pair of twins for input and output, and they will probably come up with a protocol to communicate brain to brain. They make up their own verbal languages easily enough. For example, an impulse along wire 1 is an X, and an impulse along wire 2 is an O. If these children have this resource available from Day One, they should be able to develop some binary like code to communicate. After years of having this in their brain, they should be able to communicate at high speed. Sort of like learning touch typing but without the limitations of finger muscles. Wire their children into the loop, and they will pick it up even more easily. Etc, Etc, telepathy. Bun!
||[GutPunchLullabies] should have posted that as a different idea as it would be much easier to do. The studies [shkspr] refers to are all intended for integration into adult brains through existing sensory pathways, infants would be able to assimilate the additional inputs far more easily. Ethically it is questionable but practically it is probably already possible since all it would require is two neural connections per brain (and a wireless link) while the others take many.
||[shkspr] posted this one idea in 2000, six annos ( and possibly a seventh, the records are unclear ) and went silent.
||He had the nerve to suggest himself as the source of suggestions for good books to read and didn't leave an email on his home page.
||His ten years are damn near up, and I'm out of new reading material.
||Wetware is going to be problematic for some time to come yet.