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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30-11-2012, 06:09 PM
RE: Edging closer to a Post Linguistic Society?
Hey, Smurf.

First of all, that was an excellent post. There are some issues, but overall, it was really excellent.

I'm going to criticise it now, but I want you to know that I'm trying to be constructive.

Thanks for bringing the knowledge on BCI.

Quote: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.).

I think that my primary objection to your theory is the premise that language can be dispensed with. I do not think that's the case. I'll be coming back to that.

I do imagine, however, that BCI would need to be able to access and interpret language, thought, emotional response, all of that good stuff, in order for us to command whatever software or hardware we were plugged into. I think it's an interesting idea; controlling avatars by remote with our minds (like pilots control drones from 6 000 miles away except the drones are skiers, or what haveyou).

Quote: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.

The brother of one of the women I'm currently working with works for Apple. He showed her how to tie into her iMac's camera with her iPhone; so she can see the inside of her home via remote. That's a pretty incredible notion. I don't know that desktops would go away, but they wouldn't need monitors, keyboards and mice if the interface is all cerebral. No point in putting all of the processing power inside the human if they can just tie into an external computer via something as simple as Bluetooth.

Quote:...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.

I'm a lot more tired than I thought, so my critique may be less comprehensive than originally anticipated Cool

The problem I have is that human cognition cannot function without language. The human mind takes this continual stream of sensory information and is constantly interpreting it and abstracting it into manageable chunks. The brain then assigns symbols to these chunks so that we can work with them. Language is just the protocol that allows us to work with these chunks (as well as the code we assign them). Whether that protocol uses spoken words, hand gestures, pictograms, Chinese characters, letters, numbers, alpha numeric code or interpretive dance, cognition can't function without it.

So if we create an interface that allows us to communicate with each other without the need for speech, or gesture or the written word, if it's all telepathic as it were, we would still be using language, otherwise no ideas would be passing back and forth.

The exception to this is emotion. Emotion doesn't require semantic meaning because it's just a feeling. It doesn't "mean" anything. It's a response, not a thought. The event chain is: event --> sensing the event --> emotional response --> thought --> action. But for all ideas, we require language.

In communications theory there is the notion of field of experience: the notion that communication is impossible except where fields of experience overlap. If you speak English et je parle Francais, then our fields do not overlap and we cannot communicate. If we both speak the same language or are both bilingual, then our fields of experience overlap and we can communicate. Experience is an important part of field of experience, but language is the absolute foundation. Without a shared language ;sdkh;eirunho#)$&liuthj-qf4809fqw}~rqhpg. Know what I mean?

An emotional transmission would not carry with it a semantic message. Neither would a memory, in terms of raw footage. But a memory that has been abstracted, interpreted, to which meaning has been applied, this would allow meaning to be conveyed, but it would not be in the form of a syntactical message. You might know that I felt sad when Betsy dumped me that warm summer morning at the lakeside, but that isn't a syntactical message. You'd have no idea what I'm trying to tell you. It would be a shared experience, not a communicated message. Not so say that sharing emotions and memories is without value. It would probably be a really profound thing. Like really profound. But in terms of communicating ideas effectively, that requires syntax. That requires syntactical language.

All of that is to say, it's not a case of rather than, but rather it's a case of in addition to.

Quote: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.





This is some crazy territory. Bloody complicated territory too. But hey, thankfully we don't have to figure out how all of that would work right now Cool But for sure, if we could develop a way to simply implant knowledge, skill and competency into the human brain, that would be dooooooooooooope.

But on a simpler level, new methods of communication might lead to greater learning, even without the implantation.

Quote: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.

It should be noted that all communication is subject to the presence of noise (not just semantical exchange, but the transmission of raw data too). There is no such thing as perfect communication and there never will be. The new technology would offer us greater flexibility, more options, so on and so forth, but no technology can ever, ever, lead to perfect communication. It simply doesn't exist.

Quote: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.






So yeah, cheers, brother. Some pretty cool insights you have there. Again, I think that my chief criticism is your notion that language can be done away with. It cannot. Plain and simple. I think that being able to transmit emotion and memory, share sensory experience, control things by remote, all of the things you outlined, would certainly augment the experience (just as being able to post YouTube clips augments my ability to communicate with you) but there would also be drawbacks (just as there are drawbacks in our communicating via message board vs speaking in person). Most importantly, there is no such thing as perfect communication, which is fine, because what you're outlining is more interesting than chasing that white whale.

So I'd change your title from post-linguistic (which cannot be the case) to something like Cybertelepathic [TM] (Cybertelepathic is soooooo trademarked by me lol).

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt
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01-12-2012, 12:13 AM
Lightbulb RE: Edging closer to a Post Linguistic Society?
Some points I gleamed, and musings:

1. Touch screens. I viewed some months ago an exhibit of a "futuristic house" where everything was touch screen - beds, walls, mirrors, toilets, fridge, counters, doors, windows, etc. With a touch you could view or control anything. I approached this with scepticism- over hyped like back during the "nuclear age" where everything in the future was theorized to be nuclear powered. Home generators, cars, vacuum cleaners, etc. I see evidence that a 'touch screen revolution' is just another fad, junk scifi.

2. Technological telepathy. Very interesting. Moving objects, or talking to people with a thought. Possible, and likely. Whether it'll have real humanity wide impact - I don't see it.
1. This is a technology only for the wealthy, and well to do. The majority of humanity won't be able to afford it, or utilize it.
2. This requires surgery, and well maintained industry. Humanity can very easily have a "lapse" (secession of peoples, depression, collapse, revolution? What have you) and this new augmented humanity will be back to "el natural". For it to have a lasting impact, this technology would have to be biological, inheritable. Or something something nanobots passed on naturally which can create this technological telepathy.

3. As for being able to transmit emotions, and thoughts via this technological telepathy, it would undoubtedly alter language and communication. I can't begin to understand how that would alter human interactions, and society as a whole. Possibly becoming more empathetic? Where you literately can understand walking in someone else's shoes. But, people are "assholes", and an abuse of the technology will precede anything that could have been beneficial and revolutionary for all of humanity. Abuse as in deliberate mind control, etc, etc.
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17-12-2012, 06:48 PM
RE: Edging closer to a Post Linguistic Society?
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-20731973

Ever closer, brothers and sisters! The Matrix is nigh!

He's not the Messiah. He's a very naughty boy! -Brian's mum
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18-12-2012, 03:11 AM
RE: Edging closer to a Post Linguistic Society?
(17-12-2012 06:48 PM)Cardinal Smurf Wrote:  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-20731973

Ever closer, brothers and sisters! The Matrix is nigh!
That's worth the investment just for Stephen Hawking to be able to lift a digit to his critics.

Thumbsup
(but not this digit)

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18-12-2012, 06:52 PM
RE: Edging closer to a Post Linguistic Society?
(18-12-2012 03:11 AM)DLJ Wrote:  
(17-12-2012 06:48 PM)Cardinal Smurf Wrote:  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-20731973

Ever closer, brothers and sisters! The Matrix is nigh!
That's worth the investment just for Stephen Hawking to be able to lift a digit to his critics.

Thumbsup
(but not this digit)
If anyone can afford it just for that purpose, it's Mr. Hawking.

I wonder how he feels about the current trends in computer control using the brain. I'll rummage and see if I can find the article about the person who controlled the computer mouse using only their brain. I can't remember where I saw it.

He's not the Messiah. He's a very naughty boy! -Brian's mum
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28-02-2013, 06:12 PM
RE: Edging closer to a Post Linguistic Society?
http://www.nicolelislab.net/?p=369

Ever closer, brothers and sisters!

I have GOT to read this guy's book. We are on the cusp!

He's not the Messiah. He's a very naughty boy! -Brian's mum
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28-02-2013, 06:17 PM
RE: Edging closer to a Post Linguistic Society?
(28-02-2013 06:12 PM)Cardinal Smurf Wrote:  http://www.nicolelislab.net/?p=369

Ever closer, brothers and sisters!

I have GOT to read this guy's book. We are on the cusp!


Oh, goody. Now the Jesus freaks can share their 'proof' of god with us.

Skepticism is not a position; it is an approach to claims.
Science is not a subject, but a method.
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28-02-2013, 06:22 PM
Edging closer to a Post Linguistic Society?
It's like you know what I'm thinking! Pffft, maybe we don't need this tech after all?

He's not the Messiah. He's a very naughty boy! -Brian's mum
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28-02-2013, 06:22 PM
RE: Edging closer to a Post Linguistic Society?
(17-12-2012 06:48 PM)Cardinal Smurf Wrote:  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-20731973

Ever closer, brothers and sisters! The Matrix is nigh!

Oh no! now she can eat all the chocolate she wants! Ohmy

Really though, these technologies are incredible. I just hope we don't end up like the civilization in the movie surrogates.

2.5 billion seconds total
1.67 billion seconds conscious

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