Brain 2.0 why does my head hurt Michio?

Thankfully my head’s stopped hurting, although you might well ask ‘why was it hurting in the first place?’.

Well, I’ve discovered that there’s a limit to the amount of hyper-intelligence that I can cope with in a single day.

Having spent the morning at TSG’s top secret R & D location – essentially a rarefied environment somewhere near Loughborough, inhabited by the crème de la crème of techie talent – I decided that the journey back North would be best accompanied by a little light-entertainment provided by Radio Five Live.

What I hadn’t accounted for was that the special guest for the afternoon would be famed futurist and physicist Dr Michio Kaku.

And the topic of conversation? Brain 2.0!

I must admit that it took me a while to get to grips with the whole concept of Web 2.0, so I had some concerns that the idea of Brain 2.0 might just push me over the edge.

It seems that the whole Brain 2.0 thing centres around new techniques and technologies that allow the capture of thoughts and memories, and then implant these back into the brain – or someone else’s brain for that matter – at some time in the future.

It’s an extension of what’s already being done to use thoughts to trigger computers a la Prof. Stephen Hawking and could potentially be used to control exo-skeletons.

It’s pretty clear that Dr Kaku, much like our own R & D Director Mat Peck, has a brain the size of a continent, so I should probably congratulate myself on keeping up with both of them; at least to an extent.

Everything Dr Kaku spoke about – and he flitted seamlessly and effortlessly between staggeringly complex concepts – was pretty mind-blowing but does it really apply to the world most of us exist in and what sinister undertones lay behind these developments?

Microsoft has already taken the technology that drives the Xbox Kinect and applied it to Dynamics NAV to allow users to control the application with gestures in situations where it’s either not possible or not efficient to use a keyboard.

Check out this video where Microsoft Dynamics NAV is used with Microsoft Kinect

But what about the idea that criminals could manipulate innocent victims’ by implanting false memories?

The security implications of these technologies are frightening. Dr Kaku talked about the idea that we could effectively save ourselves onto a disc! At this point I did think it might be better to store such valuable data in the Cloud – assuming that the provider had suitable redundancy, replication and service level agreements in place, of course.

Obviously, the data would need to be encrypted and that would be one password you certainly wouldn’t want to forget.

This also brought to mind the broader philosophical issue of what constitutes ‘you’ – and numerous discussions at 3am with my girlfriend who was writing about this nearly 30 years ago for her university dissertation. Now that really did hurt my head.

One of the key drivers behind Brain 2.0 is the quest to find ways to reverse the impact of diseases such as Alzheimer’s and to help those suffering from locked-in syndrome, so clearly there’s huge value to be gained from the investment in these developments.

The hope for all of us is that we never actually have the need to use these technologies.

That’s what brought me back to the conversations that I’d had earlier in the day with Mat.

The technology industry has always had a tendency to overcomplicate when it should actually be aiming to make key tasks more straightforward – whether that’s in our personal or business lives.

That’s something the R & D team are absolutely focused on in the development of a number of exciting new products for the education and membership sectors – delivering the requirements and functionality that users really need to be more effective and more efficient.

It was certainly very easy to be drawn in to the incredible world being described by the charismatic Dr Kaku, but using technology shouldn’t be like trying to understand the rules of the League of Gentlemen’s ‘Go Johnny Go, Go, Go, Go’!