Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Techlepathy, how cybernetics could assist the mentally disabled

"I don't know what you're thinking Paul, you have to tell me," something I've heard in many of my conversations with my mom, I'm trying to explain something but can't describe it in words. As many of you know I have Asperger's Syndrome, essentially a very high-functioning form of autism, and one of my symptoms is that I find it difficult to put my thoughts into words because many of my thoughts take the form of images or sounds instead of words. During one of my difficult conversations I recalled the Cyberpunk anime Ghost in the Shell, where telepathic communication via neural implants or techlepathy is common.

I began to think that since communication over the internet isn't solely text one with a brain-computer interface could hypothetically send more than just words to others with similar interfaces, but also images of what they are thinking and their emotional states. One of the difficulties that autistics have with communication is a lack of empathy, they cannot pick up other's feelings as easily as neurotypicals can, a BCI or possibly just some sort of wearable computer could help them with that. This could have the disadvantage that autistics with BCIs would only be able to effectively communicate with people who also had BCIs, but if computer technology becomes small enough it might be possible for a worn or implanted computer to host an AI program designed to "interpret" for the user. Unfortunately, we have no idea when any of those technologies will become available, most Cyberpunk takes place in the 2030's or 40's but that is an optimistic guess, if the Singularity happens BCI's will either become necessary for humans to keep up with AI or unnecessary as humanity's biological existence comes to an end.