A Computer In Your Brain? What’s Up With That!?
Author: Not Specified
In today’s modern era, we value life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, inalienable rights we call them. But what if these elusive things that we hold so dearly are kept out of reach because of a physical or mental aliment? A heart condition keeps your form playing the sports you love. A bad hip makes it painful to walk. Or even a mental illness like dyslexia or dementia keeps your mind frail and clouded. At what ends would you go to repair and/or replace that malady in order to live your life the way you want to live it. Machinery. Millions put it in their bodies or rely on it every year to replace what has been robbed from them by natural deterioration. The body is always eroding, and in today’s era, we put machines in our bodies to take back what time has stolen from us. But at what point is one no longer a part of nature, rather than just another manmade? This will be a trying question over the coming decades as we move into a new time of brain implants and other advanced bodily interfaces that have never been tried before. The controversies regarding whether this type of advancement is natural and moral can only be answered by those whom ask. The answer to the inquiry of where we draw the line between what is man and what is machine can only be remedied by each human soul, as there is no one repost that everyone can agree on.
In today’s society, we use a lot of machinery to better our lives. According to Newshour “17 cents of every U.S. dollar is purchasing (medical care).” That ratio is two and half times more than any other country in the world (Kane). Now a exceptional chunk of that is spent on components that we put in or around our bodies. Some of these items one might not even think about at first. Almost 3 million hearing aids were sold last year alone. We all know what these little devices do, but without one grandpa probably couldn’t hear you yelling at him from two feet away. Artificial heart valves save and renew thousands of lives each year. These small flaps of muscle that get replaced every eight to ten years allow an individual to maintain a healthy and active lifestyle, when a faulty valve could have prohibited one from doing so before hand. Knee and hip replacements have become very popular among the elderly age group, as their hips and knees show the most deterioration. Having one of these surgeries often results in more mobility, which many consider valuable and indispensible to their independence. The last big impact mechanism I would like to address is prosthetics. People with birth defects, victims of accidents, or wounded military personal who are missing a limb or, God forbid, limbs all have a need to replace it/them. The quality of life will never be the same, but with the advancement of prosthetics, doctors can make it close. Now a majority of people in society approve of machinery being used for human betterment, as most see it as an ordinary way of life. If you see a person with a prosthetic arm, you may wonder what transpired; however you probably won’t think twice about whether or not that person was still a human being just because their arm is fake. In a more generic sense, all of the things listed above are just replacing a faulty part. It is not until we dive into the realm of machinery that changes the human mind that more potent questions arise. At the moment, humans reign supreme over machine, until they consume our very identity.
The technology of tomorrow’s generation is already under way. Only this type of machinery is much smaller, has the power to alter human psyche, and is way more controversial than its present day counterparts. Yes, I am talking about brain implants and the use of microchips. Sounds far off right? Well, not exactly. A coalition of researchers from USC, Wake Forest University and Stanford University are expected to install 80,000 memory-boosting microchips into patients within the next 2 years. It is forecasted that they will be available to the general public within five to ten, regulations forbidding. So let me break it down; these chips will be surgically inserted into the skull, tap into the brains nerves, connections, and neurons and then remember things you would have otherwise forgotten. In my opinion, that type of machinery is way too far. But here is a little anecdote on why this phenomenon will become the norm. Two decades now, a six-year-old boy walks into kindergarten. The teacher speaks, gives a lesson and then assigns a task. Johnny, for lack of a better name (respectably), remembers everything that the teacher has said, all the way down to the last syllable. Johnny aces tests, always raises his hand, always has the right answer. He skips grade levels and graduates high school at a very young age because his intellect is far superior to that of the “un-tampered” minds of the other students. He has a competitive advantage, no doubt about it, and in a capitalist society, something with that much potential will not go unaddressed. Parents will demand equality and will try to do the same for their kids, and henceforth create a demand for a good. So we see how society will come to accept this new mechanism even though it crosses the line.
Another brain microchip is being developed by USC and University of Kentucky that has statistically made monkeys smarter. The hope is, that one day, the technology will be used to enhance human brainpower. I am talking about being able to learn languages quickly, analyze data and situations faster, and even being able to sense things more distinctively and clearly. Imagine being able to look, not read, look at a page in a book and be able to know everything it said because your mind can systematically retrieve data from what your eyes see. Now that is just a hypothetical situation of course, but it is the same technology, same concept, just farther down the road.
So the big question that comes out of this is why does this even matter? Why is it relevant to me? Many now think that this stuff is cool, but what will they think when this technology arrives on our doorsteps? This is something that should be deeply pondered upon because the time of brain implants is here and it will become prominent in your lifetime. So again, how much of your body do you want to be operated by a machine and not your own complexion? The answer to that of coarse is yours and yours alone. The decision to let these instruments consume what is natural is a part of your inalienable rights to pursuit what you deem worthy. Granted, you may be pressured by society to join in on this robotic era this world has become, but what the individual does and what society expects him or her to do are two entirely different plights. For as the line between what is man and what is machine becomes blurred, so do the values of humanity. The morals, the interactions and the thoughts will be run, operated and indexed by a microchip.