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New senses for us all - Synchronicity swirls and other foolishness

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April 2nd, 2007


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04:31 pm - New senses for us all
Here's an absolutely marvelous article about giving humans new senses courtesy of andrewducker, and another article about artificial sight via tongue electrodes. These articles confirm what I've seen discussed elsewhere, we are blessed with exceptionally versatile nervous systems. If you build a device that provides a human with useful information and find some way to connect it to our nervous system (currently, the most common method is via some form of device generating small vibrations or electric currents) within a few days, people learn to use this new sense as well as they can use any other sense. In addition, people who wore devices that simply indicated the direction of North for many days felt somewhat disoriented and very much noticed the missing sense when they stopped wearing the device.

Such devices are currently somewhat large and wearing a bulky belt that regularly makes noticeably vibration noises sounds far less than ideal. However, work is also progressing well on various forms of neural interfacing for eyes, ears, and other conventional inputs. I'm betting that wrist or glasses mounted devices connected to implanted electrodes using a wireless interface are going to be available within the next decade, and smaller and less noticeable ones using tactile input will likely be available in 5 years or so. For directionality, I can see sensors that both magnetic sensors that indicate north and GPS-based ones indicating distance and proximity to a programmed location (you'd enter the chosen location on your webphone). I'd enjoy having both - never getting lost again would be interesting and useful, and the same tech that will let the blind see will likely be able to give anyone the ability to perceive IR or UV just as well. It looks very much like adding in useful things like a built in smoke alarm & carbon monoxide sensors might also be useful. I'm very much looking forward to this tech starting to see commercial application, very cool stuff indeed. This is the essence of what transhumanism means to me - improving our senses, improving our lifespans, reducing defects & limitations like illness and the need for sleep, and eventually improving our intelligence.
Current Mood: excitedexcited

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Comments:


[User Picture]
From:onyxrising
Date:April 3rd, 2007 02:26 am (UTC)
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I seem to recall a few months ago reading an article (with photos) on people who'd had magnets surgically implanted in their hands. They gained a similar sense of direction.
More interesting to me, however, was the fact that they could turn the magnets on and off this will- as in they could tap metal to pick it up, and then decide they didn't want to hold it and just cut the magnetic pull off to let it fall.
[User Picture]
From:onyxrising
Date:April 3rd, 2007 03:09 am (UTC)
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Oh, and after reading this, I mentioned the magnetic implants bit to a friend. He and I concluded that it would probably become as acceptable and commonplace as body piercings in a couple decades, and then it would have an inevitable and unfortunate consequence- someone, somewhere, would fetishize it. Yes, in twenty years, we theorize, we'll have to deal with magnetic pasties when we go out to the strip bar for drinks.
And then I went looking for the original scientific article I remembered. The first thing that came up on google? The fetish community for magnetic implants.
(Deleted comment)
[User Picture]
From:heron61
Date:April 3rd, 2007 06:32 am (UTC)
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Sadly no, I never bothered to investigate this further, because obviously (being male) I don't have it.
[User Picture]
From:kinkyturtle
Date:April 3rd, 2007 04:58 am (UTC)
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Hi! I've seen your comments on other people's entries, and then I started reading your entries. You don't mind if I friend you, do you?
[User Picture]
From:heron61
Date:April 3rd, 2007 06:23 am (UTC)
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Not at all, enjoy!
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From:bluegodjanus
Date:April 3rd, 2007 07:09 am (UTC)
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Wow! That is really cool. I'm a big fan of biotechnology, and this looks like an excellent usage of it.
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From:alephnul
Date:April 3rd, 2007 08:44 am (UTC)
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I wonder what having a physical sense of North would be like, and how it would interact with my psuedo-sense of North (I usually have a strong sense of where North is, but it is actually just a product of having a very strong sense of general orientation and an attention to where north is (I can be easily tricked into establishing a false North, and I can lose it if I am in a car in complicated situation (or in a car and not driving or watching the road)). I suspect it would integrate very nicely.

I'm not a technology hound (although I still want my electronic paper and my microHUD glasses, I've been waiting for the electronic paper for 10 years now), but new senses sounds very cool.
[User Picture]
From:heron61
Date:April 3rd, 2007 09:40 am (UTC)
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Ebook readers using electronic paper are nove available from Sony, but they are also too expensive and rather limited. Oddly enough, the MicroHUD glasses may well be in widespread use first. Then again, a good ebook reader needs to replace a printed book, which is an extremely durable, useful, and well-proven piece of technology. A good microHUD merely needs to replace an annoyingly tiny screen on a cellphone or PDA - which is a vastly easier task.
[User Picture]
From:alephnul
Date:April 3rd, 2007 09:55 am (UTC)
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Of course, for me a microHUD needs to replace nothing, as I don't and wouldn't use a PDA, but I might use a microHUD if it were really nifty.

Likewise with the electronic paper, I want really good e-paper, or I just don't care (although that one is even more extreme, since as you say, books work much better than anything that e-paper is even close to.

I'm a hard audience to please.
[User Picture]
From:rhiannasilel
Date:April 3rd, 2007 02:32 pm (UTC)
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That is absolutely amazing. I wonder what the logical conclusion of this is. I have to agree that it seems like it would be an evolutionary step, and I guess this could arguably be the first deliberately engineered step in the evolution of humankind. For all the bad that we see everyday, this is one thing that I think is a step in the right direction. I can't wait to see where this goes.

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