Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Universal Connectivity

In my 2015 short story "WIN" I explore the perks and downfalls of universal connecting. While it’s easy to view my story as a far reaching and imaginative interpretation of theoretical science, the ideas I mentioned may be closer to reality than many realize.

Recently, SpaceX and Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced he is backing a brain-computer interface venture called Neuralink, according to The Wall Street Journal. The company appears centered on creating devices that can be implanted in the human brain, with the eventual purpose of helping human beings merge with software and keep pace with advancements in artificial intelligence. These enhancements could improve memory or allow for more direct interfacing with computing devices.

Musk recently said, "Over time I think we will probably see a closer merger of biological intelligence and digital intelligence." He added that "it's mostly about the bandwidth, the speed of the connection between your brain and the digital version of yourself, particularly output." On Twitter, Musk has responded to inquiring fans about his progress on a so-called "neural lace" which is sci-fi shorthand for a brain-computer interface humans could use to improve themselves.

He's not the first to try. In 2016, self-made millionaire Bryan Johnson launched a company that seeks to connect the brain with computer intelligence. Johnson's company, Kernel, is working to make "chips" to insert in the human brain. They claim these chips, which are actually neurotechnological hardware designed to read and write neural code, will be used at first for individuals with disease or deficiencies to restore normal brain function. Johnson says in the future he expects the technology to progress so that even healthy humans can get chips implanted in their brains - and become, in effect, superhuman.

They are not the first to hope to connect human minds. However, not everyone feels we need technology for this. Many believe a universal collective consciousness exists between species.

Collective unconscious is a term coined by Carl Jung, referring to structures of the unconscious mind which are shared among beings of the same species. According to Jung, the human collective unconscious is populated by instincts (think about nature vs. nurture. It's instinctual to eat when hungry, care for those hurt, seek out companionship, etc.) and by archetypes (writers adhere to this thought as well - such as Joseph Campbell and Christopher Vogler.)

The psychotherapeutic practice of "analytical psychology" revolves around examining the patient's relationship to the collective unconscious.

Psychiatrist and Jungian analyst Lionel Corbett argues that the contemporary terms "autonomous psyche" or "objective psyche" are more commonly used today in the practice of depth psychology rater than the traditional term of the "collective unconscious."

Critics of the collective unconscious concept have called in unscientific and fatalistic, or otherwise very difficult to test scientifically (due to the mythical aspect of the collective unconscious) for those faith-based scientists.

Regardless of how you feel about these issues, you can certainly see how the topics might spur writers to create new stories, and how those stories in turn can spur on technological, psychological, and scientific experimentation.

How do you feel about Universal Connectivity? Do you feel humans should be working towards neural implants? Do you believe in the possibility of a non technological  collective unconscious?