Edging closer to a Post Linguistic Society?
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29-11-2012, 02:13 PM
Edging closer to a Post Linguistic Society?
OK, perhaps that title could be better, but here goes.

This is my description of a direction I believe I foresee in the future of human technology. Originally I was thinking I should try to build a science fiction story around it, but at this point I think it best to share it with the people whose opinions I admire most (that's you guys by the way). I test software/hardware for a living so I do pay attention to current human technological endeavors, but I do this mostly at work when I'm supposed to be working, so you'll likely notice missing research in a lot of places...or you may even notice that I'm describing something someone else has already done before. If so, oh well, such is my life.

Paying attention to recent advancements in mobile cell phone tech, we see recent achievements in the realm of human-technology interfacing. The touch screen really has changed no only the way people use a cell phone, but has likely contributed a great deal to the proliferation of both mobile devices and software into the marketplace. Now everyone has one it seems.

Meanwhile, on another technological front we have brain-computer interfacing (BCI or MMI ) making amazing advancements due to recent discoveries about how the brain interfaces with the human body and its senses.

One day it occurred to me to consider combining the two much like they are frequently described in some cyber-punk fiction. So, eventually the phone's interface is 100% replaced with BCI. What does this mean? Well, we would need to see BCI to make further advancements beyond allowing the brain to simply control the physical world (moving artificial limbs, moving a cursor on a screen). We would need to improve on this technology such that we can interpret the brain's desire to communicate. We'd begin with interpreting the brain's thoughts of things like letters and symbols (if even possible). Perhaps then we could move up to interpreting thoughts of words or simple ideas (ball, potato, etc.). Possibly we could even begin to interpret entire complex thoughts and thought processes (how to ski, how to fly a helicopter, how to speak Chinese, etc.).

Anyway, if we can at least interpret the simpler ideas (send this email, send this idea to my friend at this address, check weather for my current position) we can do away with most current human-machine interface methods eventually (cost and time permitting). Perhaps we would eventually even see the end of the desktop computer. The devices would now all be controlled by the brain alone. If we could perfect this type of interface, what would it mean? A device, implanted somewhere within a human (not necessarily inside the skull, too risky), employing this type of interface would be operated with no further need for a screen, or the need to type. In fact, if we can learn to interpret and digitize or record human thought, there would no longer be a need to communicate exclusively using language as we are forced to do in most cases now (like I am right now). Eventually, as this technology improved and proliferated civilization, we could learn to communicate through recorded thoughts and emotions rather than through language. Of course, considering that thoughts my prove to require large amounts of bandwidth cellular tech would also need to keep up, but I see no signs of stoppage there.

If we could manage to reach that point, think of the implications of this new, unhindered method of communication. Would learning improve? I would think so. Would mutual understanding between humans become easier? I would think so. Rather than hoping you've articulated yourself properly with the language you utilize, you can now simply send another person your thoughts on something. And they can then play those thoughts back. I suppose there may still be a risk of misinterpretation, but with language out of the way, I would think at least we'd know what's on one another's minds. And even if we do retain certain specific uses for language, we wouldn't always be forced to verbalize it. We would still have the option to send language, it would just all happen in our minds, recorded digitally.

So, now we have some new things we can do using this technology. Need to send a remote probe to a location too dangerous to send a human? Allow the internal interface system to connect wirelessly to the probe's sensors (cameras for eyes, mics for ears, etc) an feed the signals from all these sensors into their human analogs digitally. Now a human can use a probe like an avatar. You'd basically "become" the probe while you operated it. I would imagine it would make operation much easier and intuitive. It's not much different from operating a probe today, but it should now happen more naturally as opposed to using a screen, keyboard and joystick for control. The video would be stereoscopic allowing for depth perception in the video signal.

Want to experience Japan but can't afford the trip? Connect wirelessly to the sensory signals being recorded by someone in Japan. You can just tour. You could join in on a business meeting, similar to using video conferencing today, but you'd feel like you were actually there now.

Does someone require medical attention but there are no doctors around, but you are? Allow a doc or an EMT to take over your sensory and muscular control (a big risk, I agree) and allow them to perform the rescue using your body. Or just let them tap into your sensory signals while they explain what you should be doing, but I think the other method more likely to helpful.

Family home videos will no longer be recorded by a camera, but with your own eyes. Let people pay to experience things others have experience (like seeing a film). Experience for yourself the thrill of climbing K2. Experience what it's like to swim as a dolphin, or...even what a dolphin is thinking (eventually I hope)!

See, as though with your own eyes, what Curiosity (or his future offspring) is seeing on the surface of Mars.

The list goes on, I'm sure (assuming this technology were even possible in the future). But, I'm really interested in what everyone else thinks. I'm expecting some sobering oversights being pointed out to me. I welcome this. But, I do love science fiction as well.

Another point: I pondered what it would be like to write a story taking place in a future like this and realized...it would be challenging to portray in film a society that doesn't communicate through language. It'd even be a challenge in a book.

Also, ever since pondering this technology and its possible effects on civilization, watching other science fiction portrayals of future humans (Avatar comes close in some ways, but only scratches the surface) there is still this adherence by Hollywood to showing humans typing on keyboards and looking at screens. They all seem so quaint by comparison. As though we might look back on these future ideas and giggle at how far off the mark they were.

I suppose we shall see.

He's not the Messiah. He's a very naughty boy! -Brian's mum
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Edging closer to a Post Linguistic Society? - Cardinal Smurf - 29-11-2012 02:13 PM
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