Author: 'electronic telepathy' is around the corner

The ability to extend and connect our mindpower is coming through a convergence of technologies such implants, wearable computers and the Internet.

Along with all the hubbub about the victory of IBM's Watson supercomputer over human competitors on Jeopardy, there has been a lot of talk about the "Singularity," in which computers move closer to matching the intelligence of humans, and humans embed more technology to augment their own bodies.

Technology will open our minds: Michael Chorost

So the timing couldn't have been better for the release of Michael Chorost's new book World Wide Mind: The Coming Integration of Humanity, Machines, and the Internet.

Chorost proposes that technology is evolving to the point that it will bring our collective thinking and intellectual capacity into a kind of global "hive mind." Technology, he posits, may augment neural processes and, thus, enable "electronic telepathy," or digital communication between human minds.

He has some personal experience with this convergence: he wears cochlear implants, which are implanted computer chips that send sound information directly to the brain and enable him to hear. The ability to extend and connect our mindpower is coming through such implants, wearable computers, and the Internet.

"If human minds could work directly with the Internet, two grand unifications could happen at once. First, humans would become more closely connected with eacdh other. ...we would have entirely new ways to sense each others' presence, moods and needs... Second, humanity and its tool, the Internet, would become a single organism with entirely new powers. Not just a mere hybrid, but a new species in its own right."

This actually sounds a little scary, but Chorost argues that there were plenty of fears when telegraphs and telephones first came on the scene. And who could have envisioned social networking as recently as 20 years ago? He also points out that technology will not be reading minds, or implanting memories or instant learning.

Still, the ability of a "wired mind" to interact, in real time, with the global Internet represents the next stage of communication and interaction, he says.

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