Bioengineers in Utah have come up with something they call the "Utah Electrode Array," and it is nothing less than a very rough, very rudimentary version of a cyberspace brainjack.
Like in Neuromancer. Like in the Matrix. Like in the nerdly wet dreams of everybody reading this article right now.
For the moment, the chip only downloads information from the brain onto a hard drive. But the very fact that it's capable of that feat means that the potential to do the opposite--upload data into your brain--is very real. And that's not just us making shit up we want to hear: According to Bradley Greger, the supervisor of the Neural Engineering Lab at the University of Utah, the end goal of this entire project is to eventually link up the brain-chip to the Internet.
And as awesome as that's going to be, that's pretty much the end of human interaction as we know it.
There's maybe four hours in the modern man's waking life that is not spent on some form of media--Internet, email, music, television, the PC at work--it's been steadily encroaching further into our daily routine for years now. Once that access is inside your brain, you can multitask while doing literally anything: checking email while having sex, watching YouTube clips during meetings, playing a quick round of Tetris through your grandpa's boring anecdotes. And who's to say it even stops when you go to bed?
If it's truly a part of your brain, you'll likely be sleep-Googling in your dreams as well.
Right now only quadriplegics are getting the implant, and they're mostly just using it to slowly "thought-type," but when the floodgates inevitably open on biotechnology, this will probably be the first thing everybody gets. And forever afterward, every single personal interaction you have will be tainted by the knowledge that your conversational partner is probably watching cat-fisting fetish porn while simultaneously Photoshopping your head onto a hot, slutty little tabby for later posting in their Human Pussies Usergroup.
Of course, that's all assuming we can even still open our mouths to talk at that point, and haven't just quickly devolved into immobile walrus-like orbs of flesh after the mind-web is released.
In Seattle, Washington there are--right this very second--living bunny rabbits with cybernetic super-eyes.
Much like the Terminator, these bunnies see the world through real life Heads Up Displays. It's all thanks to their special bionic contact lenses which have near-microscopic CPUs embedded in them to send and receive visual information.
Now, admittedly their current HUD is pretty basic: An 8 x 8 pixel LED field. But that's really only because the money isn't there to build a better prototype. The technology for a more complicated, human-usable display is completely viable, right now and at this very second. It's not "far-removed into the future," or "waiting for a breakthrough" in new technology; you could have it tomorrow if somebody invested enough.
The creator and Grand Master of the Terminator Bunnies, Babak Parviz, says it is totally feasible to build an augmented reality interface to slip right atop your eyeball. Since the lens reads visual data (the direction and focus of your eye) as well as displays it, he doesn't think a command interface will be a problem. And since the amount of power needed is so small that it could be entirely provided by a microscopic solar array embedded right there in the lens, power supply is not an obstacle either.
Combine the aforementioned implantable Google with the eyeball overlay display, and you've got a woman who can quickly scan your ex-girlfriend's Twitter feed while you're trying to hit on her at the bar (first thing she reads: "OMG steve totally got drunk and pooped in my mailbox again").
But if these things hit the market in a few years, we're not going to deter you from getting them. Quite the opposite, in fact: We need to adopt it as soon as fucking possible, because as of this very moment, Pacific Northwest bunny rabbits are the most scientifically advanced species on Earth.
Yes, let's keep modifying the little furry bastards. Augment their brains. Give them the Internet so they can Google "the weakest spot on a human body accessible by bunny teeth" without pausing to break pursuit of their prey. While we run from the murderous bastards, having delirious Monty Python flashbacks, the bunnies can pull up our Facebook page, browsing that wacky test we took where we listed off all our irrational phobias. Oh, was leporiphobia not on that list? Maybe it's time to update that.
No, our society is not doomed by adopting this tech, it's doomed by every second we don't.
Of all the 90s cartoons to turn out to be prophetic, who thought it would be Bucky O'Hare? We had our money on Street Sharks.
Do you have something funny to say about a random topic? You could be on the front page of Cracked.com tomorrow. Go here and find out how to create a Topic Page.
To see the technology that's going to have to get out of the way for this stuff, check out Tech Zombies: 6 Technologies That Don't Know They're Dead. Or check out how you can construct your fancy name-brand products, in 7 High Tech Products And Their Cheap Ass Ingredients.
And stop by our Top Picks (Updated 12.29.2009) to pick up our brand new handbook, Terminating the Terminator Bunny.