Expanding Knowledge: Brain-Computer Interface vs. Digital DNA
Neuralink is, perhaps, Elon Musk’s most controversial project. The promise of linking the human brain with unlimited and instant access to all of the world’s knowledge is intriguing, to say the least. He is not the first, nor the last visionary to explore this realm. But, I can’t help but wonder which technology is ultimately going to win the coveted achievement of linking humans and the digital realm.
BCI tech as we know it now is extremely invasive. Recently, researchers from Carnegie Mellon developed a non-invasive form of BCI that is being used to control a robotic arm. This may open the door for less-invasive methods of connecting the brain to the internet. Such as the project known as BrainNet that uses non-invasive techniques which allowed three people to transmit brain-to-brain thoughts while playing a Tetris-like game.
Digital DNA is quickly becoming a hot topic within many industries as the future of data storage. Our accumulation of data is simply becoming too large to maintain using traditional methods. The resources required are soon to exceed our capacity. This is true in terms of tangible resources, like hardware, but also the amount of energy consumption and the tangible resources involved in that.
BCI tech is proving very useful for those with severe motor disabilities. One day it could be used to improve the lives of those suffering from paralysis. My question, though, is what would be the point in using a BCI device for advancing human knowledge, other than for the purpose of “uploading” minds to the internet and getting “updates”?
Digital DNA could give us the opportunity to essentially have access to knowledge that would almost be instinctual. For instance, imagine being born with all of the knowledge about psychology that we currently hold. Or, the entire understanding of music theory. All of this knowledge would be instinctual.
Would we need to combine BCI and Digital DNA in order to allow the body to decipher the encoded information? Could modifying RNA (it is believed to be the writer, eraser, and reader of DNA, after all) be the key? Would we need to incorporate ways to enhance the brain to near quantum computing levels? These and many other questions still remain.
Move Over Digital DNA! Here Come Metabolomes.
Digital data storage innovations are moving so quickly, it’s becoming harder and harder to keep up!
Could it, Eventually, Render AI Obsolete?
In the interim, we still need AI to help us sort through all of this information and make connections we currently cannot due to the limitations on the human brain. However, the resources required to maintain AI systems are immense. This is the same for BCI systems. Biotechnology is much more fuel-efficient, after all. I will explore this topic more in subsequent articles.
Would we Still be Considered Human?
Ideas such as this open the door to many philosophical questions about whether doing so would make us cease to be what is defined as human. A different kind of human? For some, it is a form of transhumanism. It could mean the end of humanity as we currently define it. For others, since we might not need to incorporate hardware implants into our bodies, it may not.