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Could Intel Hardwire Your Brain for Google?
Last week, Roger Dooley had an interesting post on his Neuromarketing Blog (great blog, by the way) about Intel's efforts to implant a computer chip directly into our brains, essentially allowing us to interface directly with computers. Roger ponders whether this will, in fact, become a wired "buy button". I wonder, instead, if this is the ultimate Google search appliance? The idea was floated, somewhat facetiously, by Eric Schmidt, in an interview with Michael Arrington on Tech Crunch this year:Now, Sergey argues that the correct thing to do is to just connect it straight to your brain. In other words, you know, wire it into your head. And so we joke about this and said, we have not quite figured out what that problem looks like…But that would solve the problem. In other words, if we just – if you had the thought and we knew what you meant, we could run it and we could run it in parallel.The Singularity and Hardwired BrainsOkay, this crosses all kinds of boundaries of "creepy", but if we stop to seriously consider this, it's not as outlandish as it seems. Ray Kurzweil has been predicting just this for over two decades now..the merging of computing power and human thought, an event he calls the Singularity. Kurzweil even set the date: 2045 (by the way, the target date for the Intel implant is 2020, giving us 25 years to "get it right" after the first implant). Kurzweil's predictions seem somehow apocalyptic, or, at the least, scary, but his logic is compelling. Computers can, even today, do some types of mental tasks far faster and more efficiently than the human brain. The brain excels at computations that tie into the intuition and experience of our lives - the softer, less rational types of mental activity. It the brain was simply a huge data cruncher, computers would already be kicking our butts. But there are leaps of insight and intuition that we regularly take as humans that have never been replicated in a digital circuit yet. Kurzweil predicts that, with the exponential increase of computing power, it will only be a matter of time until computers match and exceed the capabilities of human intuition.Google's Brain WaveBut Intel's efforts bring up another possibility, the one posited by Google's Sergey Brin - what if a chip can connect our human needs, intuitions and hunches with the data and processing power available through the grid of the Internet? What if we don't have to go through the messy and wasteful effort of formulating all those neuronal flashes into language that then can be typed into a query box because there's a direct pipeline that takes our thoughts and ports them directly to Google? What if the universe of data was "always on", plugged directly into our brains? Now, that's a fascinating, if somewhat scary, concept to contemplate.Let's explore this a little further. John Battelle, in a series of posts some time ago, asked why conversations were so much more helpful than web searching. Battelle said that it's because conversations are simply a much bigger communication pipeline and that's essential ...

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