World Wide Mind: The Coming Integration of Humanity, Machines, and the Internet
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What if digital communication felt as real as being touched?
This question led Michael Chorost to explore profound new ideas triggered by lab research around the world, and the result is the book you now hold. Marvelous and momentous, World Wide Mind takes mind-to-mind communication out of the realm of science fiction and reveals how we are on the verge of a radical new understanding of human interaction.
Chorost himself has computers in his head that enable him to hear: two cochlear implants. Drawing on that experience, he proposes that our Paleolithic bodies and our Pentium chips could be physically merged, and he explores the technologies that could do it. He visits engineers building wearable computers that allow people to be online every waking moment, and scientists working on implanted chips that would let paralysis victims communicate. Entirely new neural interfaces are being developed that let computers read and alter neural activity in unprecedented detail.
But we all know how addictive the Internet is. Chorost explains the addiction: he details the biochemistry of what makes you hunger to touch your iPhone and check your email. He proposes how we could design a mind-to-mind technology that would let us reconnect with our bodies and enhance our relationships. With such technologies, we could achieve a collective consciousness—a World Wide Mind. And it would be humankind’s next evolutionary step.
With daring and sensitivity, Chorost writes about how he learned how to enhance his own relationships by attending workshops teaching the power of touch. He learned how to bring technology and communication together to find true love, and his story shows how we can master technology to make ourselves more human rather than less.
World Wide Mind offers a new understanding of how we communicate, what we need to connect fully with one another, and how our addiction to email and texting can be countered with technologies that put us—literally—in each other’s minds.
expressions.) Alternative explanations such as low intelligence have been ruled out; the rats aren’t too dumb to eat. Rather, it appears that the rats have no will to eat. Dopa-mine seems to be what makes rats want things. In daily life wanting is so basic that we assume it doesn’t need to be explained. It doesn’t surprise us that we want to eat. However, it is surprising. Machines such as cars don’t feel “thirst” when their gas runs low. A computer doesn’t feel “suffocated” when it runs low on
others. The gift was always returned. One of the other assistants sat beside me as we watched one of the exercises and said, “Tell me about yourself.” A grand, generous, open-ended invitation. But No Chemistry In 2007 Regina came to visit me in San Francisco by way of a conference there. I had offered to put her up, stressing her privacy with careful chivalry, and she had carefully elected to put up in a hotel instead. I was feeling her out in the most metaphorical sense possible, gauging
connection at the second workshop, back in 2005. I sat next to a raven-haired woman and boom. I’d had crushes before, many of them, but it had always been oneway. Now it was two-way: immediate, visceral attraction. I’d never experienced boom before. A mini-affair played itself out over the next three days. My initial reaction was to tell myself, “This can’t be happening.” I’m short and deaf, I said to her at one point: don’t these things bother you? Questioning a woman’s judgment about you isn’t
Bisected Brain, p. 2. 14 In 2009 the New York Times profiled a family in which every member: Stone, “Breakfast can wait. The day’s first stop is online,” New York Times, p. A1. 15 “In essence, every young person in America has become, in the literal sense, a public figure”: Nussbaum, “Say everything,” online. Chapter 2. What Does It Mean to “Read a Mind”? 18 “Philosophy could still play a role in science”: MacFarquhar, “Two heads,” p. 64. 18 the neuroengineer Gerald Loeb distinguishes
synaptic glutamate spillover and reuptake by linker optimized glutamate-sensitive fluorescent reporters,” p. 4411. 137 a 165-pound man could, in theory, generate 6.2 watts of power by walking: Antaki et al., “A gait-powered autologous battery charging system for artificial organs,” p. M593. 138 “Can we picture devotions marking the great significance of a young person getting her first cognition piercing”: Garreau, Radical Evolution, p. 265. Chapter 9: The Most Connected Man in the World