Scientists Unveil First Human Mind Connection to the Internet
“Mind Cloud” Predicted to Replace World Wide Web by 2015
HELSINKI, FINLAND—Researchers announced today the first successful human mind connections to the Internet, ushering in what they called the successor to the web as we know it today: a “Mind Cloud” where humans interact with clouds and each other through direct thought.
Web Jack Threatens Mobility Market
According to Dr. Horst Jurgens, the breakthrough is the result of seven years of cooperative research from a Finnish-Scandinavian medical-technology consortium that has been working in secret until now. “We were tasked with finding what might come next after smartphones, some form of implant-based approach that would not require people to carry around a device.”, Jurgens said.
Test Subject Demonstrates Original Mind-USB interface
Members of the press were invited to witness a demonstration of the breakthrough achievement. Several test subjects who had undergone procedures for a mind-web interface were connected to the World Wide Web and were able to interact with it convincingly. Reporters were encouraged to ask questions and confirm the answers with their own web searches. This reporter asked several questions that test subjects could not have known the answers to in advance but can be found through online searching. All were answered correctly in a matter of seconds.
In another part of the demonstration, several test subjects were connected to the same local network and were able to chat, share information, and sense each others’ presence all without utterlng a word.
Initial Success and Second Generation
The original implant (pictured above) provided a mind-USB interface capability only that would allow the subject to be connected to a local area network hub, and required an interface processing unit that had to be carried outside the body. “Due to limitations in our initial approach, we also had to locate the jack right in the middle of the forehead, an admittedly inconvenient location.” said Jurgens.
Test Subject Demonstrates Second-Generation “Web Jack”
that connects to World Wide Web
that connects to World Wide Web
Once initial experiments showed subjects could successfully interact with computers and each other over the network, researchers quickly got to work on the next phase. The second generation uses an altered procedure that allows an Ethernet cable to be attached at the base of the neck, which is more convenient. It also has a smaller interface processing unit that fits within the braincase, removing the need to carry a unit outside the body. Most importantly, the second generation can connect to the World Wide Web.
“Our ultimate goal, of course, is to be wireless.” said Dr. Jurgens. “The third-generation device will likely resemble a Bluetooth earpiece.”
Currently, the procedure to receive an implant is fairly radical and expensive brain surgery that involves inserting hardware into the brain and connecting it to a cable interface on the head or neck (researchers call this a “web jack”). Jurgens said he is confident the procedure will become less intrusive and expensive over time.
Surgeons Perform Delicate Brain Surgery Required to Install Web Jack
The most visible result of the surgery, the web jack, is the smallest part of what is actually installed. The processing unit located within the braincase is the interface that mediates neural signals and network signals. Researchers said this was the trickiest puzzle to solve. Apparently one individual was permanently damaged in early experiments due to an overload of information the team has since learned to throttle. “The interface now acts as both mediator and protector.” said Jurgens, “It is a kind of firewall.”
Test subjects insisted there was nothing uncomfortable about the web jack. One subject said, [translated to English], “Not only is it not uncomfortable, the web jack is a vital part of me. I was not whole until it was put in.”
Remote Control Humans?
One area of related research the consortium mentioned is that of one person being able to influence or control another through the Mind Cloud. “We have already performed a successful experiment where one person can remotely control another, with their permission. The controller subject was able to perceive sensory input from the subservient subject as well as control their speech and movement.” said Jurgens. He added that while the initial results were crude he was confident they would become refined over time.
When asked about the obvious concern such a capability might generate, Jurgens said “Of course, we will need careful controls to be in place, but you’re missing the bigger picture.
The ability for one person to proxy through another is major. Generals could control front-line soldiers in
the field without risk to themselves. A parent could audit how things are going in their child’s school day. An expert could help a novice learn by showing them what to do in a whole new way.“
Jurgens even foresees pets being outfitted with web jacks. “Imagine being able to command your dog to sit, even if you are halfway around the world.” he said (several human and animal rights groups have since complained heatedly about these statements).
Another form of remote control that is possible is affecting the emotions of a person outfitted with the web jack. In one of the researchers’ demonstrations, test subjects were able to foster positive or negative emotions by directing Facebook “likes” and posts at one individual. “Think of the implications on voting, public opinion, and feedback to organizations” said Jurgens.
Despite the consortium’s rosy predictions, there has been plenty of negative reaction to the announcement ranging from mild concerns to outrage.
U. S. Congressman Tim Downey said his constituents and colleagues were concerned about abuse by governments, major technology providers, and terrorists. “People are already up in arms about Echelon monitoring of their phone calls and email. What will happen when our thoughts can be tapped as well? Do you really want Google or the government knowing what we think?”
Several technology firms announced immediate plans to develop or adapt malware suites for the Mind Cloud, and at least two have already asserted the web jack infringes on existing patents.
Impact and Predictions
The consortium, which includes commercial development organizations, expects general availability of mind-web interfaces to the public by mid-to-late 2013 and is predicting a mammoth revolution that will turn the World Wide Web into a “Mind Cloud”.
If this prediction is correct, the current mobility phenomenon may be over as suddenly as it came upon us. Stocks fell across the board for mobile device manufacturers within hours of the announcement. “Mobile devices gained popularity because people could take the web with them.”, said a consortium spokesman. “Now they can do that without having to carry around anything.”
When asked what this might mean for the mobile industry, Jurgens was quick to point out the consortium has already filed patents on its work. He also said, “We have already heard concerns expressed by mobile manufacturers in response to our announcement, but we actually see them as our most important partners going forward. We are simply taking the mobile revolution to its logical conclusion.”
Artist’s Conception of Mind Cloud
In addition to convenience, another benefit of the Mind Cloud is speed. “At the speed of thought”, said Jurgens, “the web is amazing. To think is to act.”
One test subject said he regularly tweets with his mind, and said he looks forward to the day when social interaction worldwide is near-instantaneous.
“We already have interesting group problem-solving going on today through social network approaches.” said Jurgens. “Imagine what it will be like when we can harness the combined power of our thoughts to solve any problem we choose to through the Mind Cloud."
Aprille Foowell and Gully Bell contributed to this article.