Transhumanism isn’t the most popular movement. As a result, there aren’t a lot of people who call themselves transhumanists. However, there are plenty of people out there who are sympathetic to the sentiments behind said movement, not least because they are extrapolations of attitudes that have already shaped modern society to a considerable extent. Have you ever considered an embedded personal device and how it might change your life?
In short, transhumanism pushes for the creation of sophisticated technologies that can be used to boost people’s mental capabilities, people’s physical capabilities, and otherwise produce notable improvements on the human condition. As such, transhumanists tend to have a strong interest in emerging technologies that can be used for said purpose. For example, there is considerable interest from said individuals in 3D bioprinting, which can be used to produce biomedical parts mimicking natural tissues for various purposes. Likewise, there is a similar appreciation for machine learning, which isn’t even close to being true AI but is nonetheless a clear step in that direction.
With that said, one of the concepts that fascinate transhumanists the most is the integration of man and machine. This can sound like something out of science fiction, but it is nonetheless something that has been worked upon for decades and decades, as shown by the continuing interest in brain-computer interfaces and related technologies. With that said, while brain-computer interfaces and related technologies have a whole host of potential uses, it seems reasonable to say that we’ll know that they have really arrived when they start being used for embedded personal devices.
Of course, that raises the question of why anyone would want to have an embedded personal device. Theoretically, embedded personal devices could enable interested individuals to access all of the features that come with standard personal devices with even more convenience, seeing as how they would be able to operate them at the speed of thought. Furthermore, embedded personal devices could be used to provide other features such as augmented reality with increased ease because of their direct connection to their user’s brain. Whether these promises are enough to convince people to get something installed in their brain is uncertain, but considering the enthusiasm for such technologies that can be found in certain communities, it seems safe to say that at least some interested individuals will decide to go for them when they become available to the general public.
What Are the Obstacles to Embedded Personal Devices?
However, it is important to note that embedded personal devices are still far into the future. Scientists have made enormous progress in understanding the human brain after decades and decades of research, but our species is still far from the point when we can claim that we have achieved even a limited measure of mastery over it. As a result, it should come as no surprise to learn that embedded personal devices are being held up by various obstacles, not least because it isn’t something reliant on a single field of study but is instead reliant on a number of notoriously difficult fields that must be interwoven together to produce the desired results.
For starters, installing something in the brain is a serious challenge in its own right because of various issues. One example would be how brain implants are supposed to connect with specific parts of the brain, which can be problematic when the brain has what has sometimes been called a jelly-like consistency. Due to this, it isn’t uncommon for parts of the brain to move around, thus causing the brain implants to lose their connection with them. Unfortunately, this is tied in with another issue of brain implants, which is that they are foreign objects. As such, the human body doesn’t take well to their presence, thus resulting in the formation of scar tissue in order to protect itself from what it sees as an intruder. Over time, the scarring can become worse and worse with the result that the connection becomes weaker and weaker. Moreover, when the brain implant becomes dislodged, that can wind up creating even more scar tissue as a consequence.
Of course, the various parties that are looking into embedded personal devices are coming up with various ways to overcome these as well as other challenges. This can be seen in how brain implants are looking less and less like the kind of electronic devices that we are most familiar with in preference for a move towards structures that bear more and more of a resemblance to the human brain itself. Something that serves to minimize the potential issues mentioned beforehand. Currently, there are no brain implants that have managed to solve these problems altogether, but there are definitely brain implants that are making good progress towards this as well as other important ends.
Will We Ever See Embedded Personal Devices?
Enormous progress is being made on brain implants, brain-computer interfaces, and related technologies. As a result, once these technologies have hit a sweet spot of being effective, reliable, and relatively convenient, it is reasonable to say that embedded personal devices won’t be following too far in their wake. Under these circumstances, it can seem as though embedded personal devices are more a matter of when rather than a matter of if.
However, it is interesting to note that there are other parties such as Facebook that are working on much less invasive versions of brain-computer interfaces. Unsurprisingly, most people aren’t particularly enthused about the idea of getting brain surgery. In part, this is because brain surgery is regarded as being exceptionally difficult, which in turn, means that it is regarded as having a higher potential for something to go wrong. However, it should also be noted that the brain is connected to who we believe ourselves to be on a fundamental level that other parts of the body are not. As such, if someone experiences complications while getting a hip replacement, they remain themselves. In contrast, if someone experiences complications with brain surgery, that could have a very real effect on their personality, on their memories, and on the other aspects that make people who they are, which is terrifying in an existential sense. Due to this, it wouldn’t be particularly surprising if embedded personal devices winded up being sidestepped altogether because of similar devices that work on similar principles but don’t need brain surgery to be installed.