Chip in head, please.

I’ve been waiting for years to go to a grey-market Seoul clinic and get the chip put in my head. Nothing anyone says about people hacking it, boot-up problems, need for regular upgrades, etc., has ever reduced my desire to be an early adopter of this controversial technology. images

It’s not that I want to be a cyborg, although growing up hearing the exultant words “Better…stronger…faster” gave me a sense of wonder and hope about biomechanical developments.

I’m just ready for an upgrade. I forget where I left my car practically every day, and while technology for finding it with external devices is advancing daily, I don’t want to have to bother with that business. I need an onboard memory prosthesis, a zoom camera eyeball, an annotated life, and a GPS HUD (for indoors too, great for navigating museums- Google already offers it for external devices).

New precision devices like a 3-D optogenetics implant, recent leaps in brain-controlled interface technology, brain pacemakers and the race for the wallets of the world’s 285 million visually challenged people mean that medical use of brain implants is actually becoming a thing. That’s wonderful, but I want a dilettante chip, a convenience chip, a chip for the quotidian, and I want to use it in the shower, unlike Google Glasses.

My vision of chip-in-head life does look pretty much exactly like this Project Glass concept video, though.

What about carriers?  What will getting a chip involve? Daniel O. Wilson tackles the issue in an excellent WSJ article.

“you may be surprised to learn that the installation of a neural implant is relatively simple and fast. Under anesthesia, an incision is made in the scalp, a hole is drilled in the skull, and the device is placed on the surface of the brain. Diagnostic communication with the device can take place wirelessly. When it is not an outpatient procedure, patients typically require only an overnight stay at the hospital.”

Doesn’t sound too bad. But there are barriers to the development of “invasive” (internal) iBMI, electronic Brain-Machine Interfaces. Implants need to provide high quality signal but be robust against scar-tissue buildup.

Alright, what about non-invasive iBMIs? How soon will I be able to get this technology in some form? Google Glass, the first step, will probably be released in 2014. The first “Glass Foundry” Glass hackathon is today, here in San Francisco.

I hope for good things from Google Glass. Meanwhile, although I know some Transhumanist folks, I’m following Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen’s advice and not waiting for the Singularity.

Edit, Jan 2020: this post originally appeared on the T324 blog.  I wrote it like seven years ago, when I was watching Continuum. Obviously I have learned about the danger of trusting tech companies to do anything with anyone’s anything. I no longer want a chip in my head, but I’m still a techno-optimist, hard SF fan, Futurist believer, dammit!

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