Hello! You there? Could you make out what I just thought? No? Wait, let me try and adjust this gizmo. OK? Here we go. Ummm. No again? Shall we take it off and put it on again at the count of three? Still no? Well, I must get a refund.
This could be the conversation around millions of homes soon. For tapping directly into someone’s brain in order to share thoughts is no longer fantasy. We have been able to create a device (by "we", I mean, of course, the human race, not just me and my neighbour) that connects directly to the users’ scalps and sends impulses that are interpreted at the other end. So far, only the words "hola" and "ciao" were sent from the brain of the person somewhere in France to that of someone in India, but from such small beginnings…
Remember the first telephone call ever? "Watson, come here, I want to see you?" That was spoken by the inventor Alexander Graham Bell (and not by Sherlock Holmes) to his assistant Thomas Watson. And now look at what we can do with phones – from taking pictures to throwing them at somebody’s head. Soon the first words spoken B-to-B (brain to brain) will gain the same kind of immortality.
Without getting too technical, therefore, we can, in a few years read one another’s thoughts. This will have a deep impact on two areas. Science fiction authors will have to think up crazier ideas in order to sell, and worse, this column will become irrelevant. I mean, why bother to wait till Friday for the magazine when you can figure out my thoughts on Thursday or Wednesday. Of course, you will get mixed signals, for I write other stuff too, including messages to my driver – you will have to isolate the 500 words that make up this column from a brain that has a few million others.
It will be the end of poetry and literature too, the justice system as we know it, and the greeting cards industry. Romance as we understand it would have disappeared too. There will be no more secrets.
Luckily, B-to-B will be followed by the anti-B-to-B, and it is easy to see why. Take Rodin’s The Thinker for example. The symbol of the rational man, using his mind to think rational thoughts. It is easy to strike the pose and fool people. But now, people will know that when you are meant to be thinking deep thoughts, you are actually wondering which movie to see or what to have for dinner. Won’t do. Hence the protective shield around all those flying brain waves. And we’d be back to where we began.
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