Emerging Technologies Tetrad: Brain-Computer Interface

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In the film Total Recall, based on a short story by Philip K. Dick, Quinn, a character played by Arnold Schwarzenegger, has a memory trip to Mars as a secret agent. However, before he can be implanted, something goes wrong and Quinn begins to have a hard time deciding what is real and what is not (Verhoeven, Feitshans, Shusett, Kassar, & Vajna, 1990).

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In The Matrix, the main characters hook themselves into the mainframe and download files that allow them to acquire language and martial art skills (Wachowski Brothers & Silver, 1999).

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In the movie Johnny Mnemonic (Longo & Carmody, 1995), Keanu Reeves character acts as a courier of information using his brain as a data storage to transport sensitive and classified information.

While we may not be able to implant a vacation, download language skills, or act as our own secured hard drive, researchers are toying around the with the idea to do just that; making us all Johnny Mnemonics. Below is my tetrad discussing Brain Computer Interface:Untitled

Enhance: Brain-Computer interfaces would be the ultimate upgrade for people around the world. If we ever achieve BCI integration, it would completely revamp some elements of our daily lives such as our attention span, and increase our multi-tasking skills (Serruya, 2015, p. 1). BCI will increase and improve the ways that people learn, and process information by allowing the information to download directly into our brains. Just like in Total Recall (Verhoeven et al., 1990), we will have the option of adding and or erasing our memories. It’s not just science fiction; researchers are making science fiction fact. Far fetching technologies from our favorite movies such as telekinetic ability, memory manipulation, downloading files will soon be a reality.

Obsoletes: Brain Computer Interfaces has the potential to make the items we use every day become a thing of the past. Let’s take our traditional classrooms; no longer will students come in, open a book and read the text. Nor will students open their tablets and read their textbooks that way. Now, they will “download” the information they need from the computer straight to their brains. There is no need to memorize facts, dates, or figures; all the information needed will be downloaded to our brains.

If data can be downloaded into our brains,  any negative emotions or bad memories can be changed as well. Just like in Total Recall (Verhoeven et al., 1990), we would be able to have any image projected into minds or memories erased. Implanted vacations can come in handy if we want to take a vacation to Bali, but we don’t want  to hop a plane and head off to Bali. We can have the vacation transferred into our brains and never leave the comfort of our homes. Naturally these vacations would make the tourism industry unnecessary.

Rekindles/Reinvigorates: As research and funding continue for brain research, people suffering from brain related injuries or illnesses would find the quality of their lives improving. Patients with Alzheimer’s or other brain illnesses will be able to start communicating again with the help of BCI (Liberati et al., 2013).

Reverses: BCI technology will open the way for researchers to explore further ways to improve brain interaction. The future could very well be a world filled with Professor Xs or Jean Greys like in X-Men (Singer, Donner, & Winter, 2000); a world filled with people controlling their environment by telekinesis and communicating telepathically.

Let me know your thoughts!

Felicia

 

What’s a BCI?

Here are two good links describing BCI and how they are useful for patients having physical or mental disabilities:

http://whatis.techtarget.com/definition/brain-computer-interface-BCI

http://computer.howstuffworks.com/brain-computer-interface.htm

Other blogs discussing BCI:

The Neuro Network: http://theneuronetwork.com/

Mind-to-Machine: http://mind-to-machine.blogspot.com/

References

Liberati, G., Veit, R., Sunjung, K., Birbaumer, N., Von Arnim, C., Jenner, A., … Raffone, A. C. (2013). Development of a Binary fMRI-BCI for Alzheimer Patients: A Semantic Conditioning Paradigm Using Affective Unconditioned Stimuli. Affective Computing and Intelligent Interaction (ACII), 2013 Humaine Association Conference, 838 – 842. http://dx.doi.org/10.1109/ACII.2013.157

Longo, R. (Director), & Carmody, D. (Producer). (1995). Johnny Mnemonic [Motion picture]. Canada; United States : Alliance Communications.

Serruya, M. D. (2015). As we may think and be: brain-computer interfaces to expand the substrate of mind. Frontiers in Systems Neuroscience, 9(53), 1-2. http://dx.doi.org/ 10.3389/fnsys.2015.00053

Singer, B. (Director), Donner, L. S. (Producer), & Winter, R. (Producer). (2000). X-Men [Motion picture]. United States: 20th Century Fox; Marvel Entertainment Group; Bad Hat Harry Productions; The Donners’ Company.

Verhoeven, P. (Director), Feitshans, B. (Producer), Shusett, R. (Producer), Kassar, M. (Producer), & Vajna, A. G. (Producer). (1990). Total Recall [Motion picture]. United States : Carolco Pictures.

Wachowski Brothers (Director), & Silver, J. (Producer). (1999). The Matrix [Motion picture]. United States; Australia: Village Roadshow Pictures, Groucho II Film, Partnership, Silver Pictures.

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4 Responses to Emerging Technologies Tetrad: Brain-Computer Interface

  1. cwhipedtech says:

    Felicia,

    I enjoyed reading your post. I like the use of the movie graphics. We looked at this topic from different angles. The use of BCI in the classroom is an mind-boggling thought. Would the teacher then become obsolete? Would we install 90 years worth of knowledge into a 5 year old? As exciting as this technology sounds, I think it has the possibility of diminishing the essence of life: growing, learning, changing. It will be interesting to see how this technology plays out.

    Tina

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    • fmlaster says:

      Thanks Tina;

      I took the approach a different way since I was looking ahead at Module 4 and I’m thinking of using Minority Report for my discussion.

      I can see a future where the teacher would be an obsolete. The work and research currently being done with BCI seems to be heading in that direction. Then again, there would be serious ethical issues about implanting 90 years worth of history into a 5 year old. I see it as an ethical issue, but who knows what the parents in the next 50 to 100 years would think. Maybe they’ll think of it as an “upgrade”.

      Felicia

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  2. Kelly Kietzerow says:

    Felicia,

    It is scary to think that it is possible in the future that there would not be traditional learning. I cannot imagine a time where kids do not learn by copying what their parents or other adults do. There is so much family tradition that is passed down from parent to offspring, to think that we would just input that information is disturbing. We would not have the connections that make us families and groups as much anymore.

    Kelly

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    • fmlaster says:

      I agree with you and I do think it’s quite scary to think that oral traditions will no longer exists. However, it would be nice to have some information available for possible downloading at a later time, such as dying languages. This link discusses some languages which are slowly dying. In the US alone we have about 74 languages on the critically endangered list.

      http://www.unesco.org/languages-atlas/index.php

      Like

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