Within the next two decades, people will voluntarily implant microchips into their skulls — all due to marketing.
Researchers for Intel predict that by 2020, it will develop a microchip that will allow our brains to access the Internet without any kind of screen. That means you will be able to look through Wikipedia, YouTube and your professor’s PowerPoints at any given moment.
In fact, it seems Google has been looking into this possibility for some time. The company’s CEO Larry Page posed that “eventually you’ll have an implant, where if you think about a fact, it will just tell you the answer.”
Of course, people have already been opting for technological insertions for medical purposes.
Scientific American published an interview in October about deep brain stimulation, a method in which doctors implant electrodes in the brains of patients with tremors, certain headaches or depression. When the electrodes pick up such a disturbance, they instantly give a particular pulse stimulation to address it.
Our generation’s love for instant communication with the fear of growing old would be only too easy for companies to prey upon.
The stock market wouldn’t know what hit it, especially when we see a limitless number of “expansion packs” emerge that can enhance our abilities.
Really, who wouldn’t want to feel like a ninja by having keener senses? Nature Communications published a study on how a group of scientists successfully gave rats brain implants that allowed the creatures to see and respond to infrared light. Such an ability would be perfect for a night walk around campus, letting one know if any potentially dangerous humans were nearby.
Getting this microchip inserted wouldn’t even be a hassle. At most, it might require the buyer to stay a night in the hospital. Because producers of this chip would be dependent on mass sales over time, its cost and availability will likely follow the same trend as those of laptops, smartphones and portable readers.
The scary part is, it will be difficult to tell just how secure these chips are.
For example, what happens when the chip needs a software update? If a tech doctor is physically looking into your skull, there is no guarantee he is not stealing your credit card number from the microchip’s data and selling it to a friend.
Likewise, if we upgrade over a wireless connection or Bluetooth, there is little telling if the connection is secure. The Board of Supervisors could be convincing students to want higher tuition over lsusecure.
Yet these are both relatively small-scale hacks when considering the bigger picture.
Such technology will be a prime target for mass hacks. Any government, terrorist organization or technologically inclined person with a fantasy of controlling the world could attempt to have wireless control over these chips.
Consider that Americans have a habit of protesting just about anything the government does. Also consider how deep brain stimulation is being tested to alter the brain waves of depressed patients to make them less sad. Bring the two factors together, and our government has great incentive to figure out how to calm protestors down by communicating with their chips on a mass scale.
And thus, our freedom of mind shall be silently stripped from us because we did not consider how far the technology could go.
I am not saying we should hamper scientific progress. I fully support stem cell research, cloning research and sending people to colonize Mars in the future.
Nonetheless, we have to keep our wits about us as we explore our ever-changing interpretations of the universe.
History shows that when humans find a tool that makes their lives easier, they will use it. Such is logic. Yet when it comes to inserting a computer in your brain, I urge you to sit this new fad out. Your brain is the last frontier when it comes to the world of Big Brother.
Alix Landriault is a 21-year-old mass communication junior from Natchitoches, La.