Thursday, July 3, 2008

Last night I was having drinks with a friend of mine who declared that all he wanted to be happy forever was a cybernetic augmentation that would give him a 1GB cache of perfect memory and an interface providing a gigabyte-a-second rate of direct information transfer into his brain.

I said that what I wanted the most is for people to be able to witness other people doing things that they would never do and don't have any context for understanding whatsoever without feeling the need to step in and ruin everything. He said it sounded like I had a specific incident in mind. I don't think so though. I do know that sometimes I have been restrained from action by the feeling of certainty that someone else will stamp on the result.

Perhaps there is some specific incident I have repressed? Have I absorbed the trauma from so many people around me who've experienced something I have not? Someone told me the story of his discovery, while playing at a young age, of a huge magnificent orb spider, and his subsequent terror at the thought that another of the boys he was with would notice it, and destroy it. That's the first incident that comes to mind, but it is not mine. Then there's the story from another childhood, of a young girl carrying a small box turtle she'd found, the neighbor boy asking to see it, and upon having it passed to him, dashing it down onto the sidewalk and killing it. That one's not mine either, but I still get angry thinking of it.

I am not a luddite and I can certainly see the potential for the radical expansion of human capabilities through cybernetics, but we've not yet discovered the full potential of our unaugmented minds. And this is still the place and time when talk radio hosts still throw fits of confused outrage upon hearing that male pubic hair grooming is becoming more and more common in society.

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