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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Brain implant dating scene

I recently expressed some skepticism about a Wall Street Journal op-ed touting brain implants. Here was part of what the authors, scientists Gary Marcus and Christof Koch, asserted in their conclusion:
The augmented among us—those who are willing to avail themselves of the benefits of brain prosthetics and to live with the attendant risks—will outperform others in the everyday contest for jobs and mates, in science, on the athletic field and in armed conflict.
Me: Some new survey data suggests that "contest for ... mates" part may get pretty complicated. Pew Research has a fascinating look at "U.S. Views on Technology and the Future," which shows an eclectic mix of optimism and pessimism regarding various futuristic technologies. (Interestingly, expectations that there will be colonies on other planets in the next 50 years are fairly low, but I wonder if the results would've been notably higher if the question had included "or on the moon.") As for implants, here's from Pew:
Men and women ... diverge substantially in their attitudes toward ubiquitous wearable or implantable computing devices. Men are evenly split on whether this would be a good thing: 44% feel that it would be a change for the better and 46% a change for the worse. But women overwhelmingly feel (by a 59%–29% margin) that the widespread use of these devices would be a negative development.
Me: On another question, having specifically to do with brain implants, there was a generally negative response, though Pew there doesn't give the breakdown of male/female:
... significant majorities say that they are not interested in getting a brain implant to improve their memory or mental capacity (26% would, 72% would not) or in eating meat that was grown in a lab (just 20% would like to do this).
Me: I'm surprised by the latter, seeing nothing inherently wrong with lab-grown meat (indeed, it has the potential to alleviate a great deal of animal suffering). As for the brain implants, based on the data above, I'd advise caution on using your (possibly hackable) cerebral electrode as a way of attracting the ladies, though I do note that one artist did sketch out a contrary scenario some years ago.



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