Are We Ready to Connect Our Brains to the Cloud?

Brain-Cloud Interface joins the Brave New World

Do the letters B-CI mean anything to you? Probably not, but they might mean something to your children or grandchildren. The abbreviation, B-CI stands for brain-cloud interface which many are calling an internet of thoughts, or a ‘global superbrain’ as some have described it.

I stumbled across this idea in research for my new book, The Ten Thousand, and while I don’t use these ideas directly, it was too interesting not to pass on (and who knows, maybe it will show up in a book someday.) I won’t bore you with the details, but the B-CI idea was first introduced as something more than science fiction in March of this year in Frontiers of Neuroscience and has gained worldwide attention ever since. Here’s why. Future technologies called neuralnanorobotics will enable neural activity in the human brain to connect with external data storage and processing.

The applications of this kind of technology are both fascinating and a little bit scary. Scientists are suggesting that in the next several decades, information can be directly transferred from the human brain to a cloud-based supercomputer. Likewise, information can be downloaded from the cloud to a human brain. You think kids have it easy today with access to Google, wait until they just have to think it, to know it.

It’s not all about education and knowledge, however. If we can upload and download information from our brains, we can share someone else’s experiences or memories through what is called “transparent shadowing.” (I think there might be a lot of wives who will want their husbands to experience childbirth.) The article in Frontiers of Neuroscience suggests that such an application of this technology will hopefully “encourage and inspire improved understanding and tolerance among all members of the human family.” No doubt, but I can’t help thinking about the more sinister or hedonistic applications that this kind of technology will inspire. The internet has been used in both wonderful and hideous ways. There’s no reason to think B-CI would be any different, no matter how Utopian those developing it might make it sound.

Every generation has to deal with the brave new world technology is foisting upon us. How we face it may say something about who we are. In recent years I have made an effort to think of technology as my friend and not my enemy. This mindset has made my life easier and less stressful. But when I consider connecting my mind to the cloud, I think I’d rather write about it than experience it.

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