Neuralink Press Release – The Birth Of The Neural Lace

 

Neuralink yesterday had their first major press release. I have followed this company from its inception as of however many years ago. I admit freely that my interest lies less in the benefits that it can bring to people suffering from various mental or physical ailments for which it could be of assistance, and more in the fantasies I have regarding human intelligence in general.

My favourite author is Peter F. Hamilton, a man who with his stories has achieved a wild degree of prescience. His ability to capture not only what impending technologies will look like, but also far more interestingly, their impact on society as a whole, has always fascinated me. When you imbue technology with the humanity which consumes it, how then does it look. I have no doubt he is not the first author to envision a brain machine interface but he is without question one who has explored it with exceeding thoroughness. Not a single one of his sci-fi worlds has indeed existed without one. They are known throughout his writing by many names: ushadow, ebutler, or some other abbreviation.

Regardless of name, they ultimately perform the similar function of elevating their user far beyond what the current human brain is now capable of. I have critically examined why it is that this holds so much interest for me. The concern being that I may be cloaking a very base desire for some new shiny thing in the always attractively deceptive belief that no, this is really loftily pursued hopes and dreams. I do not want to delude myself. And I believe with fair confidence I can say that I have not. We are able to lie to ourselves so convincing at times it is hard to tell what a rationalized limbic indulgence is compared to an aspirational thought. And that we are constantly changing what we truly believe aspirational to be does not make matters any easier to comprehend. The circles I go in sometimes. Regardless, as I say, I am confident.

I want to experience more of life. That is the reason this technology so appeals to me. There is, I think, a mistaken impulse to self-flagellate when we aspire to things beyond our set of readily developable skills. It can be seen as greedy, like the petulant child who is never satisfied with the quite amazing life they have been given by their loving parents. And I would not argue that this does not hold some grain of truth. I do have strengths. I do have skills that I have been able to develop through practice and training. And first and foremost I should be grateful to have even that opportunity: to develop that which comes arguably most naturally to me.

But I would argue that it is only a mistaken sense of self-censorship that requires we stop there. Because I want to know more does not mean that I do not appreciate what I know already. Quite the contrary, I find the more I know, the more I learn, that feeds the part of me which wants to know anything at all, and it is not limited to one topic. All points in my education feel interconnected. I love film, so how do I film? Cameras are used to film, so how do I use a camera? It seems to me the most natural thing in the world that a boundary set around that kind of progress would be incredibly frustrating. I know it is. I experience it frequently.

When I was younger and in high-school I would study math non-stop for hours. I never stopped being anything other than horrible at it. I grew to hate math. But as I got older I realize that was only a result of my experience. Of course there is nothing to hate about math, nothing to explain about how absurd that is, but myself and many others will hate all kinds of inanimate things because of our negative experiences with them. And truly that is a shame. Especially if you are, as I have been able to, look back with clarity. I would happily enjoy math if I could have only digested it better. Math is in so many ways our world, our world made into language. Look no further than video games to confirm this. Games are math. What a thing to hate. You might as well hate breathing.

I am a firm believer that talent is a fabrication of convenience for people who are not willing to practice what they love. Skill is not a mistake and those who achieve it rarely do so through grace. That said, I think it would be foolish to not acknowledge some degree that genetics play in our skill-sets. I, in that sense, have achieved something in the way of a case study, having studied math for impressively excruciating periods of time while still maintaining a mastery best described as hopeless. I must have some genetic pre-set that has helped me to elude success in math because I certainly gave as much time as would be required by brute force to improve and did not.

Could this technology be the answer for people like me who now understand they got off on the wrong foot with subjects like math? Could we now return to them and reconcile that relationship, resurrect from ash that burnt denial to enjoy one more experience that was barred to us prior. I know the technology has a long way to go before granting the sort of neural upgrade I have been witness to in the pages of fiction I so love. But it is coming. For now I am happy to see it at the start. Potential is to me as satisfying as an end result. It has had to be.

 

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Society Sickness

ARCHIV - Menschenmassen sind auf einer Straße in Tokio unterwegs, Archivbild vom 30.03.2010. Das Risiko, an Depressionen oder Angststörungen zu erkranken ist Studien zufolge bei Städtern deutlich höher als bei Menschen, die auf dem Land leben. Bei Kindern, die in Großstädten aufwachsen, ist zudem das Schizophrenie-Risiko zwei- bis dreimal so groß. Wissenschaftler haben jetzt herausgefunden, dass zwei für die Regulierung von Stress und Emotionen zuständige Hirnregionen durch das Stadtleben beeinflusst werden, wie Professor Andreas Meyer-Lindenberg vom Zentralinstitut für seelische Gesundheit (ZI) in Mannheim der Nachrichtenagentur dpa sagte. EPA/KIMIMASA MAYAMA (ACHTUNG: Sperrfrist 22. Juni 1900 Uhr, zu dpa-Text "Städter haben höheres Depressionsrisiko" vom 22.06.2011) +++(c) dpa - Bildfunk+++

Water, if drank too much of, is unhealthy. By extension anything we can consume is potentially deadly. This is a worrying revelation considering what we consume is not limited to the material world. Much of our consumption is cerebral. And so I believe we have created a new kind of sickness: Society Sickness.

Since I was a child people were constantly talking about how quickly change was occurring in the world. I’m sure as well that this particular topic was not native to my generation. Pretty much since change has occurred people have said it’s becoming more rapid, and relatively speaking, they’d be right. I identify this as the primary reason that people dilute their understanding of change now. A mentality wherein we think “well change has always sped up” does not fully appreciate the degree to which it has in our time. And oh my friends how truly it has.

moving quickly

If you consider that the earliest manifestations of the Internet started in the 1960’s, a fact I looked up as I write this, you should realize how recently massive change has come to the world. Freedom of information is the key factor in how different our lives are today. The advent of the smartphone I think has been severely underestimated for its impact as well. There are other technologies I could mention but I feel these best express the idea I am driving at.

smarphone

We’ve had so many new technological introductions to our society that allow us to socialize and educate that I believe, as much as we have impressively adapted, we have not kept up. To draw a fun historical comparison for what happens when new thinking or technology enters the world we could examine briefly Genghis Khan. Previous to the way his military fought, warfare had remained the same for hundreds of years. Equipped as he was with more potent knowledge and tactics, he annihilated his opponents and established one of history’s greatest dynasties. Technology is Genghis Khan in our case; and we are his opponents.

We too easily think of the freedom of information as something that enriches us. When in truth, information comes in infinite forms and is capable of being equally as destructive as it is constructive. Certainly we can now spend endless time improving ourselves with every great master’s works of fiction or science available at our fingertips. But just as simply we can waste weeks binge-watching inane garbage spewed out by click-bait media. We’ve accomplished many great things as a species but our preference, ingrained through evolutionary survival, for the path of least resistance, often leads us astray.

clickbait-cursor-fishing-hook

And we have, as I have tried to establish, come by this fairly innocently. Parents barely used to Facebook themselves would have a hard time realizing what an intense role it will play in their children’s lives. Technology even within the last 10 years has accelerated at such a pace that all but the nerds obsessed with it would not grasp its implications. We’ve all heard the expression “we need to disconnect” and that is what I will appeal to here. Take a moment and think how often each day your eyes are resting on a device that grants free flow limitless information. You may find it startling. We are consuming our society, both mentally and materially, at a rate that could not be called healthy, and we are suffering from it.

I made the point at the beginning concerning water to illustrate that regardless of the quality of something—we need water to live—in excess it’s harmful. It’s worth bearing that in mind for information as well. Yes, even good information that we consume can become harmful, if we do not allow ourselves a moment away from it. So for the love of the great flying spaghetti monster meditate, go camping, and speak personally with a friend. Disconnect and recharge. Maybe one day we’ll expand our mental capacity with whatever neurological implants to handle an endless non-stop flow of “The Kardashians” or “Cosmos: A Space Time Odyssey”. But that day has not yet come.

sandwiches

The Right Time and Place: Hope for the Social-Media Marketer

social-networking

As I am oft to do, I found myself thinking about if my social media presence is really worth the amount of effort that I put into it. Does all this networking really amount to anything? Or, am I just spinning my wheels? There is always that sinking feeling that no matter how many people I network with, that I am forever resigned to be a small fish in a huge pond, and my work as an Author will never see a positive result from it. I’ve never given into this way of thinking, but admittedly, it’s something that has plagued me. Until recently.

As I am also oft to do, I was watching some interesting videos on Youtube. The video in this case was a speech given by one of my favourite intellects of our time: Ray Kurzweil. If you don’t know him, which is very unlikely, I’ll fill in the gap for you.

Ray is a futurist, famous for writing his incredibly successful book ‘The Singularity is Near’ wherein Ray discusses how very shortly, within the next three decades, humankind will undergo a rapid change as a result of its developing technology. He is also a famed inventor, responsible for creating the first keyboard capable of orchestral quality sound recreation. My friend, an audio engineer by trade, actually uses one of these keyboards, so I can attest to its amazing sound. In Kurzweil’s book he predicts some incredible things. Some of which are so far-reaching in their implications one might seriously consider discounting the man as a nut-job. The problem with Kurzweil is this: he is not some nut-job. His hugely successful career is a testament to that fact. The man is considered such an amazing mental power Google has seen fit in recent years to hire him as director of engineering. There is no denying, the man is on the cutting edge of what is possible in the coming future.

Introductions finished, let’s get into what exactly the man was talking about in his video that I found inspiring. He was talking about what had made him so successful in his career. Namely what gave him an edge over the competition. To do this he asked a question. He said to the audience in attendance, ‘Why do you think Facebook is so successful?’. He asked smiling, ‘Do you think it’s because Mark Zuckerberg needed to reach an age where his brilliance could be released on the world?’. One could assume from the playful way in which he suggested the idea, that this was most certainly not the case.

He went on to say that although there was no denying the brilliance of those involved with the project for recognizing the opportunity, there were far greater forces at work for its successful carrying out: right place, and right time. Kurzweil assured the audience, and I’m inclined to agree with him, that Zuckerberg and his cohorts were not the first to have this idea: interconnected social systems on the web. The important thing to realize he said, is that even if you had conceived the idea many years before, regardless of how amazing it was, you could not implement it without other technological factors catching up. Kurzweil pointed out that Facebook was impossible in a time when using the Internet meant dial-up modems and crackling interruptions to the connection as we yelled down the hall at loved ones for sabotaging our usage. And like a magician pulling the rabbit from his hat, when Kurzweil said this the audience gave an audible ‘ohhh’, myself included.

The point Kurzweil was making—if you haven’t already guessed—is that success is the result of two equal parts: knowing what technology, creation, or innovation is needed, and realizing when temporally it can be nominally utilized. Now we come to why I found this utterly inspiring. This concept is directly relateable to social-media as a tool for advertising, and whether or not it will grow in both potency and potential. This relates as well to a thought I’ve had recently: no matter the era, we are always living with the illusion that we are living in the future, or at the very least, the cutting edge of what is possible. When in reality, this could not be farther from the truth. We are no less cave-men, by technological standards, than cave-men.

From considering these two ideas: the still massive potential of social-media, and our misunderstanding of technology, I derived the true significance of what Kurzweil was saying: we have only now just reached the tip of what is possible through social-marketing. The evidence perhaps which best demonstrates this fact is the growth and progress of information technology / the Internet and its usage. Certainly it’s easy to lose ourselves, like I do so often, thinking that we’ve pretty much bottomed out. That is to say, how much faster or more interconnected could we become? The answer is simple: a lot.

I did not want to stuff this piece of writing with a bunch of figures, as it is more a philosophical rambling piece, but I’ll toss in a few for their added strength to the argument. I was looking at figures which displayed the Internet’s growth taken from the year 2000 until 2012. The stats were quite a revelation. Africa’s growth usage in the aforementioned time periods was mind-boggling, growing roughly three thousand six hundred per cent. During the same time period globally, the Internet’s usage grew five hundred and sixty-six per cent. The Internet is booming, and in the coming five years will grow yet again at a nearly inconceivable rate due to Moore’s law of exponential progress. You can see its evidence everywhere: phones, computing power, and transmission speeds. With the advent of ‘fifth generation transmission’—in which speeds achieved are thirty times faster than the current LTE—the world is going to change in a way that for lack of a better word could be described as—weird.

So for those of us worried if we’re tapped out in terms of what we stand to gain in free advertising from social-media, fear not. If you have started to throw together a ‘social media mud-hovel’ as I like to describe my current empire, you have not missed the boat. You actually stand perfectly positioned to still reap all the benefits of this rapidly changing era. Put succinctly, you have entered into the arena, at the perfect place and time.