The Future of Communication?
I recently saw a Sky news article appear on my Twitter timeline: “World First As Message Sent from Brain to Brain.” Of course, I clicked.
The intention was to create a device that can pick up brain wave signals without intrusion or surgery, and transmit those signals nearly 5,000 miles (from India to France) to a set of 3 ‘volunteers’.
These volunteers had a device that could induce brain wave signals, again without intrusion, into their own brains.
Or, to put it another way, people 5000 miles away could read each other’s minds.
The obvious choice for a communication pathway was the internet, and the researcher’s primary objective was to see if they could bypass the talking and typing part of the internet, and establish a direct brain-to-brain form of communication.
Now doesn’t this sound a lot like Alexander Graham Bell…?
Bell was a Scottish-born scientist, innovator, and engineer who is credited with inventing the first telephone.
One of Bell’s experiments involved the family’s Skye Terrier ‘Trouve’. After he taught the dog to growl continuously, Aleck would reach into its mouth and manipulate the dog's lips and vocal cords to produce a crude-sounding "Ow ah oo ga ma ma".
With little convincing, visitors believed his dog could articulate "How are you grandma?” (Perhaps this was the inspiration behind Walls’ advertising campaign of the dog declaring his love for their brand of sausages).
Of course he didn’t just do this for a practical joke, he was using it to experiment with sound. It’s this kind of experimentation that provides innovation, and ultimately develops new technology.
So back to the brain-to-brain experiment, could you imagine the future with that kind of communication in it?
You’d have to make sure your security was regularly up to date; I can just imagine the headlines… ‘Celebrities’ thoughts leaked on to the internet’.
Or you could end up having that annoying neighbour character ‘Only Me!’ from Harry Enfield and Chums, popping into your brain through Lync or Skype whilst you’re doing your shopping, having a shower…or otherwise indisposed.
Not to mention ‘brain hacking’ when your nearest and dearest asks those dreaded words, “Does my bum look big in this…?”
Or when you’re having a ‘friendly’ team-building poker game, like we occasionally do out of hours in our Loughborough office, and your opponents know exactly what cards you’ve got.
There are however a lot of positives to having direct brain-to-brain communication. I would imagine that, like fibre optics, it’s a lot faster to communicate your message. Plus there would be no question about whether you heard someone correctly.
But I think the main advantage would be overcoming disability; you only have to look at some of the statistics on the Action on Hearing Loss website, to see what an impact this sort of future technology would have.
It does make you really think where the future of communication is going, and what devices we will see emerging on to the technology market over the next five or ten years. I would be interested in your views on the future of communication or technology.