Friday, September 9, 2011

They are really close

Brian Christian continues to boggle my poor old head in "The Most Human Human".  Here he discusses experiments by University of Reading (UK) professor Kenneth Warwick.  Warwick had special devices inserted into his arm and used them to integrate himself with a mechanical arm that could exactly duplicate what his flesh arm did.  Then:

Perhaps the most amazing thing that Warwick did with his arm socket, though, is what he tried next. Warwick wasn't the only one to get silicon grafted into his arm nerves. So did his wife. She would make a certain gesture with her arm, Warwick's arm would twinge. Primitive? Maybe, yes. But Warwick waxes Wright brothers/Kitty Hawk about it. The Wrights were only off the ground for seconds at first; now we are used to traveling so far so fast that our bodies get out of sync with the sun. A twinge is ineloquent: granted. But it represents the first direct nervous-system-to-nervous-system human communication. A signal that shortcuts language, shortcuts gesture. "It was the most exciting thing," says Warwick, "I mean, when that signal arrived and I could understand the thing—and realizing what potentially that would mean in the future—Oh, it was the most exciting thing by far that I've been involved with." What might it mean in the future? What might the Lindbergh- or Earhart-comparable voyage be? As Douglas Hofstadter writes, "If the bandwidth were turned up more and more and more and still more … the sense of a clear boundary between them would slowly be dissolved."

(Christian, Brian (2011-03-01). The Most Human Human: What Talking with Computers Teaches Us About What It Means to Be Alive (p. 216). Doubleday. Kindle Edition.)

Uh-oh!  Sounds great for the couple seeking more unity but what about domination, jealousy, privacy, etc.?  I read about a Japanese product that gives someone a spray that can be sprayed into underpants to see if the husband has any semen in there.  How about a connection to the brain that allows one partner to see through the eyes of the other and note just where that rat is and what she/he is doing?

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