The Hairy Eyeball
In about ten years, integrated circuits will be so small, they will be wearable. Implantable. Edible! The recent Las Vegas CES (Consumer Electronics Show) featured plenty of wearable tech, all of it huge and bulky (compared to what’s coming). That contact lens? It will soon be as smart as your iPhone, with a heads-up display like The Terminator. Move your eyeball and blink to change apps. We already have crude retinal implants that allow the blind to see, well…something. It won’t be long before this technology is perfected, and people can be fitted with a brand new bionic eye with the power of a supercomputer. The question is, when this sort of thing is available, how many people will elect to pluck out a perfectly good eyeball in order to have one? The answer is – lots.
If you’re blind, or crippled, people feel for you. The deaf, however, are considered an irritant. Don’t argue, it’s true! To communicate with the hearing impaired you have to shout, write things down, or use elaborate sign language. But for people with inner ear damage, yet still have a functioning auditory nerve, there is a surgical solution.
Nearly half a million people worldwide have had cochlear implants installed in their inner ear, small electronic devices that allow the deaf to hear things. The sound quality is not good, but improving. As micro-miniaturization progresses, the bionic ear will soon surpass natural hearing. You will be able to hear a pin drop in a haystack three miles away. Imagine being able to control the volume by blinking your bionic eye. There’s an app for that. And how many otherwise normal, healthy people will have these things installed in order to have superhearing? The answer is – you guessed it, troops – lots.
Direct Brain Interface
But why stop there? Why not have a chip implanted directly into one’s brain, giving each individual the power of a supercomputer? They already have crude devices of this type, used to solve medical problems:
There will no longer be any need for smartphones, laptops, or wearable devices. To link it, you think it. Soon, everyone will be hearing things, in their own mind. Imagine the firewall needed to keep from getting brain-hacked!
“Doctor, I’m hearing voices.”
“What are they saying?”
“They’re telling me to burn things!”
“There’s an app for that.”
When told that their ancestors used to tap on keyboards and view screens, the response will be, “How quaint!” When computer memory storage becomes molecular, the devices could be set to record…everything. An entire population with total recall, and actual credibility on the witness stand. But wait. There’s more. The chips could be manufactured with a built-in ‘backdoor’, so that everything you see, hear, do, or think could be uplinked. At this point, we will be only one small step away from…
Sounds Swedish. But it’s short for ‘Cyborg’, half man, half machine. During season 2 of the TV show ‘Star Trek – The Next Generation’, the writers and producers wanted a new villain. They came up with ‘The Borg’, a race of cybernetic beings assimilated and linked together (via twenty-fourth century sub-space routers) into a ‘Hive Mind’, or Collective. Having no individuality to speak of, they gained knowledge and achieved biological and technological advancement through conquest. “We are the Borg. You will be assimilated. Resistance is futile.” Monstrous in appearance, they came equipped with various artificial prostheses that whirred, clicked, and shot off sparks. Definitely not Swedish. They were well on their way to becoming a Type 3 galactic civilization when they ran into human beings, a race of superkillers unprecedented in the history of the cosmos, whom they foolishly tried to assimilate. Not only did they get blowed up good, they got hacked, which sent them scurrying back to the Delta Quadrant with their cybernetic tails between their legs.
Human vanity being what it is, hideous prosthetics are unlikely. The ones we choose to adopt will no doubt be elegant and unobtrusive. But what of the hive mind? There are two great forces at work in the universe. The drive toward individuality, and the drive toward collectivism. We are the former, while you are the latter. Some of you, anyway. There will be pockets of resistance, those who believe that humans work best with their individuality intact. They will refuse all implants and augmentation on the grounds of it being unnatural. Will they be swept away by the tide of history? Only time will tell.
Next: Part 3 – Nanotechnology!