No disease, no natural conception, no mind of your own. Excited?
By MacGregor Campbell, Linda Geddes and Daniel Cossins YOU have your own mind, right? You have your own thoughts and you experience the world in your own unique way. In short, you’re an individual. Maybe future generations won’t enjoy the same privilege. If you believe some futurists, technology will make telepaths of us all. We will live every day in a vast network of brains that communicate directly via sensors and implants. This “noosphere” could enable true global consciousness – but it might also obliterate the individual, transforming our existential landscape forever. Researchers at the University of Washington in Seattle have already demonstrated a human brain-to-brain interface. Rajesh Rao wore a sensor-studded cap to measure his brain’s electrical activity, while Andrea Stocco sported a device that stimulates brain regions using targeted magnetic fields. By imagining moving his hand, Rao was able to send a signal to Stocco’s brain, causing him to move his finger. Miguel Nicolelis at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, and his colleagues have gone further with rats and monkeys. Last year, they connected the brains of three monkeys, showing that the primates could synchronise brain activity to control a virtual arm. But the leap from monkey brains coordinating an action to a global shared consciousness is massive. “You cannot transfer minds, emotions, memories,” says Nicolelis. We don’t know how to measure and encode such higher-order brain functions. Anders Sandberg at the Future of Humanity Institute at the University of Oxford, UK, says that even if we could establish connections with the required fidelity,