[ExI] The telepathic communication era

Giulio Prisco (2nd email) eschatoon at gmail.com
Fri Sep 11 17:47:01 UTC 2009

A short article on BCI that I just wrote for a Spanish magazine. The
Spanish translation belongs to the journal but the English original is
mine. Enjoy, FYC


Many people, including me, are now used to be always online. With my
smartphone powered by Google’s Android operating system, I am used to
send and receive email and IMs anytime, from anywhere. It is easy to
see how this trend will evolve: most routine computing applications
will migrate to smartphones, the coverage and bandwidth of wireless
networks will go up, and their price will go down. In only a few
years, we will be used to be permanently plugged in the global
Internet, and of course the user interfaces will improve. For example,
as described by the visionary science fiction author Charlie Stross in
his novel Halting State, augmented reality technology based on smart
glasses will soon permit overcoming the limitations due to the small
size of phones. A first generation of suitable smart glasses is
already available, but there is something much better on the horizon:
instant telepathic communication.

A few months ago a researcher sent a telepathic message to Twitter by
thinking it, using his brain as a computer input device via the neural
interfacing system BCI2000. The first message says just “SENT FROM
BCI2000” and the second message is only a bit more explicit: “USING
EEG TO SEND TWEET” but the brain wave Twitter moment has been compared
to to a modern equivalent of the historical Alexander Graham Bell’s
“Mr. Watson, come here. I want to see you.” message, The company
Emotiv Systems launched, earlier this year, a commercial neural
interface called EPOC, able to detect the user’s thought and translate
them to commands understandable by computer programs. The company’s
website has video clips showing users controlling videogames by
thought alone. We can safely say that the year 2009 has marked the
birth of the era of telepathic communication.

If you are not a passionate hacker, don’t rush to the electronics
store though: these Brain-Computer Interface (BCI) devices have still
years of development to go before reaching operational maturity: the
historical Twitter message took several minutes to compose and send,
so don’t plan to write a long love or business telepathic letter just
yet. Similarly, the EPOC interface only permits very basic actions in
videogames and virtual worlds at this moment, and in controlled
conditions. But, of course, this will change fast. There is money to
make with the countless applications of BCI technology, and our
understanding of the brain, though still very limited, has already
reached a critical mass. These two facts will ensure the fast
development of operational, commercial BCI technology: today’s slow
baby-talk between the brain and the computer will give place to very
fast and precise communication. And since computers are linked by the
Internet, also their users’ minds will be linked by the Internet:
yesterday’s slowly typed SMS will be replaced by tomorrow’s instant,
long telepathic messages. BCI technology, originated in military
programs and medical research including clinical trials with severely
disabled patients, is finding its way to the commercial marketplace.

Today, smartphones are replacing desktop and notebook computers, but
perhaps they are only a stepping stone towards tomorrow’s ultimate
wearable computer: the computing device implanted directly in the
brain. The team led by Ted Berger, described as The Memory Hacker by
Popular Science, has spent the past decade engineering prototype
memory chips that can be implanted directly in the brain. This is
still very experimental research, but I think it will advance fast and
reach operational maturity within the next couple of decades.

Nobody has seen and described the convergence of these trends better
than Ben Goertzel, one of the world’s leading experts in Artificial
Intelligence. In an article titled Brain-Computer Interfacing: From
Prosthetic Limbs to Telepathy Chips, Goertzel writes: “Scientists are
exploring multiple radical brain imaging technologies, including
devices involving carbon nanotubes and other nanotech-based materials,
which seem to play more nicely with brain cells than conventional
materials… And in time, even more fascinating possibilities may be
realized. Consider the “telepathy chip”—a neural implant that allows
the wearer to project their thoughts or feelings to others, and
receive thoughts or feelings from others.”.

Everyone’s mind will be permanently linked to the wireless Internet,
and through the Internet to everyone else’s mind. This will trigger
very radical changes. In particular telepathic groups—able to
instantly share and elaborate thoughts—will produce an enormous
acceleration in the development and deployment of new ideas, and cause
the emergence of “group minds”. And once neural communication is
sufficiently deep, accurate and fast, it will be possible to transfer
the informational content of a person’s brain, with memories, thoughts
and feelings, to a higher performance storage and processing device.
This “mind uploading” technology may eventually provide practical

Giulio Prisco
aka Eschatoon Magic

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