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My latest contribution to The Next Web: connecting your brain to the Internet sounds great – but is it a good idea?



“Brain implants or other types of neural links, such as Brain Computer Interfaces (BCIs) between the brain, the internet, and the cloud, are quickly entering the realm of science rather than science fiction. The Defense Advanced Research Agency is ready to run trials with closed-loop mood control chips linked to AI that can deliver an electrical impulse to regulate a soldier’s mood. In the private sector, Elon Musk has announced Neuralink — a neurotechnology venture that will not only focus on fighting diseases but also on augmenting humans so they can better compete with machines. The technology is advancing in campuses and government-backed labs around the world, attracting serious funding from established technology players, technology institutes, and top universities. For instance, Professor Newton Howard of Oxford University has produced a functional neural implant prototype by combining some of the brightest minds at MIT, Oxford, and Georgetown, and the resources and technical know-how of Intel and Qualcomm.

All of this begs the question: Is the world ready for this kind of human enhancement, and is it a worthy idea to pursue in the first place? Well, I for one wouldn’t be standing in line waiting for my brain implant, as it would take away too much of what makes me who I am.

The ‘promises’ of a bio-enhanced future

The introduction of brain implants that we normal people could buy at the mall will open a Pandora’s box of possibilities. It’s one of those technological leaps that makes you wonder if our future is going to be heaven or hell (#Hellven). This is something that I spend a lot of time thinking about, and have written extensively about in articles and for my book.

I know it might sound like a cliché, but many of the potential “upgrades to human” will probably end up downgrading our lives in terms of health and happiness. While we might gain certain superpowers, we would also lose many attributes that define us as human beings. How could we retain non-algorithmic-generated characteristics such as serendipity, surprise, mystery, and even free will in a world dominated by super-intelligent machines connected directly to our mind? Wouldn’t a constant connection to a cloud with virtually limitless computing capacity lead to total dependency, to a radical loss of human autonomy, and ultimately, to the total dehumanization of society?

Granted, pretty much everybody would want superhuman powers, and many of us would do almost anything to become god-like cyborgs. If humanity were asked to choose, this would for many seem a no-brainer…. ”

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