Seamless “thinking fusion”?

The new research on deciphering brain signals funded by the US military has recently achieved a breakthrough: Researchers have succeeded in isolating signals that affect actions and behaviors from brain signals. This may be the first step for soldiers to use brain waves to achieve silent communication in future operations.

In the sci-fi movie “Avatar” released in 2009, there is such a setting: the human brain can be connected to the machine with the help of cables, and enter a completely virtual world through mental activities. Earlier, American writer Michael Clayton, famous for his work “Jurassic Park”, wrote a science fiction novel called “Terminal Man” in 1971, about the doctor giving a violent mania The patient undergoes surgery to implant electrodes deep in his brain to deliver a computer-controlled calming pulse to the excited area of ​​the brain. Although the operation was successful, the patient fled the hospital shortly afterwards and became a murderer…

We found that these scenes imagined by science fiction writers are getting closer and closer to reality. In 2019, a “neural connection” company led by American legend Elon Musk disclosed a brain-computer interaction technology that allows machines to interpret brain activity. Allegedly, this technology is designed to help paraplegics by implanting devices in their brains to control computers, so as to help paralyzed people control their bodies, and one day can greatly improve the way humans think and communicate. One of the most important tests includes the ability to monitor brain activity and then decode it. This means that they can associate specific brain activity patterns with actions, such as movement, vision, and language.

Implanting chips into the human brain is different from operations such as installing artificial limbs and artificial hearts. It can be regarded as a behavior that is contrary to traditional thinking, and it will inevitably lead to controversy. Some scientists said that it is necessary for us to explore the mechanism of the human brain, but this kind of technology is very dangerous, and the consequences of abuse of the technology will be unimaginable. Scientists warn that unnecessary invasive surgery is very dangerous, and any technology that may allow others to interpret or control human thoughts or behavior should be treated with caution.

Carl Sagan, a famous American popular science writer, often used his brilliant pens and passionate speeches to look forward to the bright future of technological development to the public, but more than 20 years ago, he also described a nightmare that might become a reality. He imagined that in the future, a dictator would imprison all the children, implant electrodes in the “pain” and “pleasure” centers of their brains, and connect them to computers via wireless networks. In this way, the dictator can control his people with a single button.

Similarly, another nightmare imagined by Japanese-American theoretical physicist Michio Kato is that someone puts probes in the brain that can rewrite our wishes, controls our muscles, and forces us to do what we don’t want to do. the work. If you are the one being controlled, the experience may not be so wonderful. Even if you think that you are the master of your body, but the muscles are in fact not under your control, your behavior may go against your will-the electrical impulses applied to your brain may exceed the impulses that you consciously transmit to the muscles. . In this case, your body is like being hijacked by others, becoming an external object.

Can’t we imagine some good things?

Have! Miguel Nicollis, a pioneer in brain-machine interface research and an American neurobiologist, is more optimistic about this. He said that the brain-computer interface is a revolutionary neurobiological paradigm, which releases the innumerable potentials of the body and the brain, and will completely change our way of life.

Nicollis believes that after the brain is freed from the restrictions and vulnerabilities imposed on him by the body, it may receive the most coveted reward in the universe: to control the evolution of mankind to a certain extent. Can this complete liberation of the brain allow us to blur or even eliminate the unbreakable physical boundaries that define individuals? At some point in the future, can we experience the feeling of being part of the brain consciousness network (the true collective thinking brain network)? He envisioned that in the future, through some amazing and harmless technology, humans will realize this kind of brain networking, so whether individuals in the network can not only communicate with another person through thinking, but also vividly experience each other What they know and feel, as if they have achieved a seamless “thinking fusion”? Assuming that all these shocking scenes can come true, and this fusion of collective thinking has truly become an ethical way of interaction that is generally accepted by future generations, will they realize that they have already woken up in the morning? Become a completely different species?