The age of the Internet of Things is rising, when all machines and objects, both fixed and moving, will be “smart” and will communicate with one another behind the back of people. Artificial intelligence and the development of fifth generation (5G) networks are the two key technologies that drive developments in this direction.
But some scientists have already begun to envision and work to implement something even more adventurous, the Internet of Thoughts, a time when there will be human brain / “cloud” interfaces. This will give people -through thought alone- direct access to both the thoughts of others and the huge amount of machine data.
Imagine a future where everyone with their minds can come into personal contact with all the knowledge of the world, at least as long as it is stored in digital form. He will just have to think about something or ask a question in his mind and the answer will come immediately to his mind and not on a screen like today that he has to put the question on a Google search engine via an electronic device. Telecommunications, education, work, the world itself as we know it today will be radically transformed with such technology.
An international team of researchers (from the US, Canada, Russia and Australia), led by scientists at the University of California-Berkeley, presented its vision in the journal “Frontiers in Neuroscience”, predicting that it would become a reality in the 21st century, thanks to exponential progress in many fields, such as nanotechnology, nanomedicine, artificial intelligence and computer science. It’s a matter of time, as they say, to connect in real time. the human brain cells with the huge “cloud” computing networks.
The vision of such a brain-cloud interface was originally pursued by futuristic engineer and author Ray Courtswell, who suggested that neuronal nanobots could be used to connect the human brain’s biological neo-cortex to the synthetic “neo-cortex” of “cloud” computing. In this way, he argued, it would be possible to directly control signals to and from brain cells.
Researcher Dr. Robert Freitas of the Institute of Molecular Production in California believes that:
“Such nanorobot devices will circulate through the human blood vessels, cross the blood-brain barrier, and settle themselves between or within the brain cells. They will then transmit wireless coded information to and from a network of supercomputers connected to the ‘cloud’, thus achieving real-time brain monitoring and data extraction.“
If it sounds like a Matrix-type science fiction, it’s because it really does look like that. People will be able to upload information to the Network and download whatever they want from it, all in a fraction of a second.
“A human brain-cloud interface through neuro-nanorobotics will allow people to have immediate access to all the accumulated human knowledge found in the ‘cloud’, which will significantly enhance human learning and intelligence capabilities“,
according to researcher Nuno Martins of the US National Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory.
Global super-brain and collective thinking
The next logical step would be to create a single global super-brain that would interconnect the individual brain networks and the “smart” machines. When this is done, then individual human thought will have become collective. The human mind will no longer be a solitary prison or an individual sanctuary, whatever good or bad it may mean.
Although not particularly advanced at present, a BrainNet experimental system has already been tested, allowing information exchange through thought and cloud between individual brains.
“With the development of neuro-nanorobotic technology, we envision the future creation of super-brains that can exploit in real time the thoughts and mental power of any number of people and machines. This shared cognitive function will revolutionize democracy, improve empathy and ultimately unify culturally different human groups into a truly global society. “
According to the estimates of the international scientific team, already today’s supercomputers have processing speeds capable of handling the huge volumes of neural and digital data needed, much more that increasingly powerful supercomputers appear each year.
The transfer of neuronal (brain) data from and to supercomputers to the “cloud” is likely to be more difficult, with an increased risk of being jammed.
“The challenge is not only to find the bandwidth for such a global data transfer, but also to make it possible to exchange data with neurons via tiny devices deeply embedded in the brain“,
One solution the researchers propose is the use of magnetoelectric particles that will effectively enhance communication between brain cells (neurons) and the computational “cloud”.
These nanoparticles have already been used in living mice to ‘pair’ external magnetic fields with neuronal electric fields, so that amplification of the magnetic signals leads to a modification of the neuronal electrical activity.
Martins believes that:
“This can work in reverse: the electrical signals generated by neurons and nanorobots can be amplified by magnetoelectric particles, which will allow signals to be detected outside the skull.“
One of the biggest challenges for the creation of human-brain-“cloud” interfaces will be how these nanoparticles and nanorobots will be safely inserted into the brain through the blood cerculation.
The researchers, however, were optimistic that, despite technical difficulties,
“An Internet of Thoughts will become a reality by the end of the century.“
Of course one does not need to have read dystopian science fiction to realize that this evolution may well have darker sides to humanity…