A former classmate of mine from the George Washington University attended a meeting hosted by Eric Schmidt, former CEO of Google, some months ago.
One of the members of the audience asked Schmidt what to expect from Google over the next 20-30 years. Schmidt hinted that we may see instant Google search results via some sort of chip embedded in our brains some day.
The fact that most of us can take this at least somewhat seriously, shows how much technology is progressing. 50 years ago this would have sounded like science fiction. What happens when something like this becomes science fact?
Instant Google search results in your mind will be the first step on the road to immortality for human beings. On that journey to immortality, our society and culture will forever be changed.
By the time we perfect the brain to chip interface, Google will have gone through many many advancements in search methodology and results listings. Search results will probably look very different from the way they do today. The search results will be more accurate and instead of getting pages and pages of results, you may only get 2 or 3 links that match EXACTLY what you are looking for. That is good news. You would not want your mind cluttered up with SPAM search results. All joking aside, what in the world would an internal, brain interface with Google search results be like?
The Change to Our Society and Culture
The times will be a’changin’ for specialists such as lawyers, doctors, engineers and the like. With the sum of all human knowledge readily available in our minds, all of us will “know” just about everything we need to know in order to prosper in society. The information will most likely not take the form of lists or links to scroll through. Rather, knowledge (search results) will appear as needed, if you opt in. For example, when you type a search now at Google…before you finish typing, guesses at what you are looking for start to appear automatically. Something similar to this could happen in a situational context.
Let’s say you find yourself in a situation with a pregnant woman who is going in to labor. The knowledge of how to deliver a baby will “come to you” seamlessly and you will be able to deliver that baby yourself. Not only will the technical details of how to do it be in the forefront of your mind, there may also be a little wisdom thrown in. The experiences of doctors may also be available to you. You’ll be able to pick and choose the methods and techniques you use to deliver that baby based on what went right and what went wrong for others in your situation.
Lack of schooling will no longer be a barrier for most occupations. When everyone has instant access to all information and instant access to “enough” online wisdom, most jobs that exist today will be able to be performed by anyone. The major exception will be creative jobs….maybe. When anyone can perform almost any job, people will gravitate to occupations that they want to do, not what they HAVE to do. A woman who just turned 18, could have her chip installed one day and then practice neurosurgery or law, competently, the next day. In fact she could be a doctor, lawyer, engineer and computer programmer all with the same ease.
The Road to Immortality
What makes us who we are? Our brains. Information will not be a one way street when it comes to the chips in our brains. In order to do the searches, that chip has to be able to read our minds on some level. As the technology improves, that chip will become better and better at reading our thoughts, storing our thoughts and transferring our thoughts. Eventually, the line between chip and brain will disappear.
Imagine a situation where someone in the future gets “killed” in a plane crash. Their body and their chip are completely destroyed. Shockingly, the family does not mourn. Why? Because before the plane trip, their loved one did a brain backup at the airport. It is reasonable to assume that robotics, cybernetics and cloning will have reached a level where the human body can be duplicated. The Japanese have already begun this process.
That loved one who “died” in the plane crash will be reloaded in to her new body. She will wake up with the memories of everything up until her backup. She may open her eyes and insist that she has a plane to catch.
This is truly fascinating! My one comment is that the ability to perform surgery and other actions that require skill that is imbedded in the muscle memory(?) may be a constraint for individuals with only access to the theory from Google.
This is some really amazing stuff. I am always looking out at the new technology that merges man and machine.
just like Borg! SWEET!
i love the idea that the search results would come with wisdom, that would be amazing! and i love the brain back up at the airport idea! i wish i could back my brain up now, maybe i could remember why i walked into the kitchen, lol!
I’ve noticed that when TV shows come up with something, science seems to work toward making it happen, like the flip phone communicators on Star Trek. I’ve seen the chip implant idea on Futurama and being able to download your brain into a new cybernetic body on Ghost In The Shell. how on earth will be control the population?
The technology to develop direct brain with compute interface has been in the works for many years now, but has many more to go before it can even be tested. However, it will become a reality and that’s troubling. All of the good that could come from every person born being able to be an instant genius is likely to go the way of the water powered engine and Tesla’s invention to allow every household to pull electricity from the atmosphere. In both cases a working prototype was built, but the threat of free resources available to the public resulted in the patents being purchased and every trace of the prototypes disappearing. Sadly, before mankind can benefit from the most powerful resource in the universe, knowledge, our species as a whole will have to become much more humane. If not, the power total knowledge places in ones hands will be reserved only for those most likely to abuse it for personal gain, the elite.
There are so many times where there is something right on the tip of your brain you just can’t fully remember. This would be amazing at finding those lost memories.
I suppose it’s only a matter of time before robotics and microchips become optional upgrades for our bodies, or replacements for damaged body parts. Hopefully by the time the technology is perfected to do so, it’s actually perfected. I mean ,just imagine having problems like happen every time Microsoft launches a new operating system… but that the chip with the software in implanted in your brain.
This is a fascinating post, and a great idea… but I couldn’t help thinking about news the reports from 50 year hence. Something like, “Last night, hackers broke through the firewalls protecting the neuro-chips of the majority of congress and senate members, as well as the President. Early this morning the USA launched a nuclear strike against China.”
After reading this article I am astonished and wondering how the future will look like. Advancements in the field of Science and Technology are taking place at a very fast rate.
ok, so we can add chips to our brains, chips in our animals, but what about chips in our children? with all the scary stories everyday about children being kidnapped, and the authorities being able to do very little to find these children (such as Elizabeth Smart or Jaycee Lee Dugard) I want to know when we are going to be allowed to put GPS chips in our children (in a place they cannot be taken out,) so when they are kidnapped by the crazies out there, we can find our children. Can Google do that?
This is fascinating and can be very scary for the fact that we may just be a living back up. I’m not sure yet if I like the idea of that. If we die on a plane crash, then we’re dead, there just happened to be a backup of our entire memory that can be inserted on a different body but our existence is doomed. Because even if there’s a back up, that’s not me anymore. Does that mean that we shouldn’t mourn anymore for our loved ones who dies in an accident just like that plane crash? It’s kind of unbearable to me so far. But I think that’s the ethical side of things and I just want to share my view for that matter. As to the scientific advancement, wow. I didn’t even know that Japan was already doing it until I read this article.
very interesting. Will it cause any medical issues? Will you have to pay to have the brain chip installed, and if so, would that create a separation where the poor people know nothing and the rich people have all the knowledge?
i love that photo of the japanese human robot lady. its fascinating what they can do already with androids, i’m sure it won’t be long before robots are doing all kinds of amazing tasks and humans are getting robotic implants.
That’s a very nice point you raised MumOf5, I guess that’s going to be a more valuable objective for this project. I mean I do understand how those micro chips can help by means of technology but to use it for means of security would make a major difference. Even I would opt to have even have pill-sized devices inserted either in my children’s arm or brain so that I will know wherever they are until they are at the right age to be left alone.
I saw a documentary on the advancements of Japanese robotics. What I saw, combined with the level of artificial intelligence already achieved could not only make for a replacement body, but once a conscience was transferred result in a super being. On the dark side, I can see people not waiting until they die to upgrade to a better mind and body for their conscience.
Ashley made a good point. If a chip implanted in the brain is costly it will draw the classes further apart. If only the rich, those elite 1%, can afford the chip to be implanted in their own and their children’s brains, they will become all powerful, God like creatures and the rest of the population of the planet their virtual slaves, or at least serfs toiling for their masters’ continued accumulation of wealth, power and knowledge.
There are many philosophical issues with immortality, but it’s technically possible, so I won’t talk about it. However, as far as having a chip inside my head, I’d say no thanks to the idea. We buy cellphones nowadays even though it pretty much tracks everything that we do on a daily basis. So imagine if cellphones can track us so well, then what about a chip that’s infinitely more advanced? One that is actually embedded in our brain. Who’s to say that the chip can’t influence us to do things that we didn’t intend to or take away our ability to think as individuals. Technology is great, but I’ll keep them outside of my brain.
A great article. I have a question though… Do you think Google Glasses are an optical interface Google is actually using as a test that may one day lead to implanted chips?
At first I was thinking “no way”. Then realized I spend at least an hour or two each day looking something up on Google for my research. So now I think, why not? Now if only there was a chip that could keep track of whatever I had in my hand a few moments ago that has completely disappeared, I’d already be staking out my place in line for a beta test implant.
If such technology succeeds then we must prepare for the negative side. As human beings, we are not limited to ‘how to’ ideas, which dominates in search engines. The Internet is full of people’s ideas including mine. If we allow ourselves to be guided by those ideas then we will be imprisoned by those chips. When somebody will hack into them, then they may lead you to a death trap or anywhere their command takes you. Will the same ranking be used on your searches? I think there will be something like Brain Search Optimisation (BSO). Since Google wants to make profit out of their ideas then our brains might be manipulated to suit their ads instead of real results, think of ads between your searches.
I find this both exciting and scary. Exciting because I like the idea of everone having an equal access to education and problems such as money and transportation to and from school might not be as much of an issue. At the same time, I don’t want ads popping into my head and I worry about hackers.
While this is an amazing technological feat to consider in the future, I can’t help but compare this to all the “horror” films where robots turn evil. What are these chips capable of? Would they be capable of controlling our minds? Could they possibly have corrupted files and be destroyed? How would professors catch plagiarism or cheating if everyone could easily just look up information in their minds? It seems as though society would have to evolve to accommodate such a change, and I do not believe the world is quite ready for that yet. I, for one, would probably be too traditional and afraid to try this device out for myself.
Honestly, I would personally never want to get involved in such an experiment of the human mind. I like my thoughts to be my own and to give someone else access to such information would just make an individual much too vulnerable.
That’s exactly how I feel. I mean, why would someone in their sane mind dare to experiment a chip in their head? Unless Google is paying a lot to them, other than financial reasons, I see no point in that.
I’d rather keep the information in my brain to myself. If all my information is being stored on a chip like that, that means that it’s possible that someone else has access to my mind and my personal information, which is something I’m really not sold on. I think that it’s a sweet idea that people can be ‘brought back from the dead’ in a sense, however, practically, if nobody died normally any more, wouldn’t the world be overpopulated in a matter of just a few years?
When it comes to doing Google Searches in our minds, what will happen in the world of education? Tests, exams, anything that we currently use in education to test and teach students will all be useless, because the student can just google it in their minds without anybody knowing.
This technology sounds very good and useful theoretically, however if it comes into practice, such an idea could easily cause many negative things.
I share the apprehensions of many here who shared their views. If the technology will really materialize,I will certainly not put myself and any of my loved ones under any circumstance in the hands of an untrained person with a chip in the head. That reeks of spooky robotics for me!
While the technology can be useful in areas such as diagnosis, tampering with the human mind is very,very risky and can be inhuman in the end.
The way it is now, if you are logged into your Google account and stay that way for one year, Google will “know” your mind based on your searches. What is proposed here sounds like cutting out the middle man. The physical computer itself.
Also, if this takes off and is popular enough with enough people, then there will be certain specialists we could do without. With every bit of information about law at your beck and call, you wouldn’t need a lawyer. You could realistically defend yourself.
The trick of course is knowing exactly which keywords and phrases you would need to use in order to get specialized information like that.
There is also the issue of being able to effectively use the information you can garner. Just like on a computer, you can learn how to take apart a vehicle’s transmission, but if you’re not mechanically inclined, you’re out of luck.
There are some things Google can’t teach you.
True, but at the moment I can use other searches, specialised group searches that Google can’t access, professional associations behind firewalls that they don’t know about, and cross-check three or four sources of data and results sets to get the right details.
There have already been concerns raised about the effect of marketing profiling on the careers of minority groups and the fact it only provides information to the user based on how their group is thought to act, not how they actually act. For example women in an IT office being shown handbag ads while their male counterparts were shown IT ads useful for work (an example from my experience). A check of search history and clicks showed the same history for both – it was doing it on demographic. There were also concerns about radicalisation through affirmation – only showing people resources that agreed with their views.
Now imagine that you get someone the algorhythm thinks will never need to put a fire out, in an emergency, googling “put fire out”, or someone in an unusual career being blocked access to the fingertip information of colleagues? It could be another path not just to rich/poor discrimination but also to placing obstacles towards individuals that want to step out of the stereotypes of their groups.
However the search results are managed, the ability of a user to turn it off and remove it would be critical to free will. A removable headband could be useful, but an implanted chip controlling the information you access? That poses moral issues, not least who controls what you get to know and the effects on free will. Control of news sources swings elections today. If they decided electors never needed to see the opposing viewpoint and could stop them, tomorrow it would be 1984.
Kind of scary, some of this stuff. I think in the case of the brain-inspired google search, the mind would go off on some crazy tangent, which is what our minds do on a normal basis. The result would be a half-way cohesive search, something like this: “what do border collies look like while broken in molten lava in Peru?” We would be lucky if it even made that much sense. As for the other part about the person dying and being “reborn” into a new body after backing up her mind…futuristic, yes. Perfect for a movie, yes. I’d watch it in a heartbeat. But I seriously doubt that enough memory–the stuff of humanity–would be recordable to make the person come back as she was. More likely she would be a shell of her former self with only some of her former memories. She would be the most confused person on Earth, trying to reconcile those half-memories with new ones that she is making in her current life. Did she even go to the fourth grade? We don’t remember every single day of the fourth grade. Did she ever have a crush on a boy at the age of ten? Do we always remember every second of how every silly little crush felt? No, we don’t. Memories just naturally hop and skip around like that.
I think there is a limit to technology and that limit appear when human mutilation appears. Inserting a chip in our body is going too far in my opinion, not to mention that we would start to seem more like cyborgs and less like humans.