When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong.

– Arthur C Clarke

What will the future hold for humanity? Bald heads. At least, that’s what Arthur C Clarke thought, and it’s a vision of tomorrow that I’m not against.  He envisioned a device (at first called the Brainman in his novel ‘The Hammer of God’ and then the Braincap in ‘3001: The Final Odyssey’) that would be fitted directly to the brain itself – necessitating the need to be bald of course – and allow a direct technological interface. With it, you could experience virtual reality as vividly as experiencing real dreams, recall any and all information within a split second… anything. I posited myself in an article at my site that such a device could be the future of not only social-networking, but the internet itself. The way it would change social networking would be in removing the necessity to interact with different user accounts. Instead you would interact with that person directly, or to be more precise, you would interact with their mind.

When you want to post a song at Facebook, what do you do? Most of us post a link to a youtube video of that song.

The same with Twitter.

With a device like the Brainman, you would think ‘Viva Las Vegas’ and everyone would see it and share in your choice.

Obviously, the ramifications of being able to think of anything and share it with anyone would extend beyond merely sharing song choices, and would have moral implications far more reaching than you might at first consider. What if you thought of the really nice sex you had the night before and you inadvertently shared it with everyone? With video and sound, and even commentary!

I guess what I’m getting at is that the future of technology, or rather our interactions with that technology rests in it being an integral part of ourselves. We need to be connected with the devices of tomorrow in ways that are perhaps biologically interactive as well as electronically. I agree with Clarke’s summation that man and machine will become more inexplicably linked.

Perhaps we will end up like the borg after-all. Hang on, perhaps the borg are us!

Today’s Guest Blogger: Tony Healey


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8 thoughts on “Brainman

  • 22/06/2011 at 4:09 pm

    Could prove a tad embarrassing Tony if our brains became truly interconnected, making us single cells in a super brain. Imagine if you came home late. Instead of your wife interrogating you she would already know before you arrived lol :)

  • 23/06/2011 at 5:20 pm

    This post made me stop to do a double take. I'm sad to say that I've never read Arthur C Clarke, but now I feel like I should. The book that I'm writing right now has a concept nearly identical to the "brainman" you describe above. In my book, I call it the exchangeLink (or eLink for short). It just seemed like the obvious next steps that humanity would take in the realm of social interaction. We are, after all, a bunch of electrical impulses. You may be right… perhaps the borg are already us! ;) Thanks for the post! Now I have to go chase those books down!

  • 23/06/2011 at 5:26 pm

    I would worry that if we traded songs via this way, it would be in my own lousy singing voice.

  • 23/06/2011 at 5:45 pm

    The question is, would the consumer want it? It could flop like cars that tell you when your door is ajar. Or it could create a societal division between the sharers and the privates. There's a sf scenario for you.

  • 23/06/2011 at 9:16 pm

    What a terrific idea for a story! The juxtaposition of moving forward in terms of evolution in the meld of technology and human biology, and keeping hold of what makes us unique; our identity and personalities.


  • 23/06/2011 at 9:18 pm

    And I'm so glad that my little blog post has made Carissa want to read Clarke.

    You MUST read The Songs of Distant Earth. One of his more sweeping pieces. Brilliant.


  • 25/06/2011 at 12:37 am

    Awesome! Thanks, Tony! I will check that one out first! ;)

  • 04/02/2012 at 5:00 pm

    I believe there would definitely have to be some kind of firewall type regulation involved in protecting people from unwanted thoughts. Or perhaps some extension of the idea of current social media, where you set the privacy levels on how much, and what type of information you want to give or recieve from any given person at any given time. It opens up a whole new set of ethical and social questions, like thought pollution, or the necessity for ways of policing thought projection processes from unscrupulous operators. Ways of filtering out manipulative advertising and so forth: the mindtech eqivalent of pop up or spam blockers. Fascinating topic. thanks for the great read!

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