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a proposal of an idea; perhaps, a prediction
august 16, 2007

the notion in science fiction of an implant with an auditory nerve component for the purpose of assisting human communication is not new. its typical suggested use is to aid in transparent language translation. the implant, located snugly near or inside the ear canal, ‘listens’ to incoming audio, human speech, detects the source language, and stimulates the auditory nerve of its listener in such a way that he or she feels as though they are hearing their own better-understood native tongue.

to me, this is not unlike the process by which morse code is sent and received. a message is translated into a machine language, a series of ‘dits’ and ‘dahs’, and a human operator ‘taps’ an electromagnet thus transmitting that code as alternating long and short electrical pulses over telegraph lines; sometimes over far greater distances via wireless.

it is then the task of the recipient operator to listen to those pulses coming through a transducer, write down the series, and translate it back into the original message.

after many years of practice, expert morse code operators are able to send and receive messages without involving pen and paper whatsover. to them, the translation process is automatic; the machine language is second nature.

morse code is still in widespread use well beyond its century and a half old beginnings, and by a much greater population than its originally intended usership, and has spawned a vast array of devices for faster code entry, alternate methods of input, and assistive applications. quadriplegics may control powered wheelchairs using ’sips’ and ‘puffs’ on a straw attached to an air-motion sensor. software products exist to control computer operating systems via morse code.

in speed contests versus cell phone enthusiasts, morse code operators have consistently toppled sms messaging.

the profoundly deaf and blind may still be given a window unto their world by use of a skin buzzer ‘talking’ to them in morse.

consider the above two statements… it is clearly within the scope of human capability to adapt to, and be fluent in, a purely binary language.

what do we know about the wired or wireless transmission of binary code? it is, by its very nature, judiciously narrowband; traveling greater distances with higher accuracy than any other audio waveform or pulse energy.

the telecom industry and its various patents has succeeded in making ours a very small world indeed. human beings are now in constant contact with one another regardless of geography. furthermore we’ve already begun to acclimate ourselves to the pervasive nature of cellphone communication. while to some people and in certain situations they are a nuisance, for the most part, mobile phones are deemed simply the best tool for interaction when not face-to-face, which, it can be said, is an increasing trend as our occupations and economies have ‘gone global.’

and, very nearly in common use, are wearable electroencephalography devices that enable the user to send control signals to machines. one such eeg decoder allows for the drawing of two-dimensional images by mere observation and careful thought. still others translate rhythmic creative impulse into midi data, and thus, music.

morse code. binary code. geometrically-expanding computer networks. cellphone technology. assistive devices. amplified eeg decoders. nerve stimulus… and a strong desire to be ‘in touch.’

bearing all of this in mind, i propose the following…

digitally-assisted human telepathy

it is entirely plausible, then, to combine these technologies and modes of communication to form a device or implant that enables its user to send and receive binary code over globe-spanning distances, directly stimulating and detecting nerve responses of the wearer’s choosing, whether ‘wetware’ or skin-worn. with training, human beings have shown that morse code can become like any other language; so, too, would they be able to adapt to whatever binary signal language might best suit this application.

over time, the wearers of these devices would become able to speak in their new ‘tongue’ faster and more effectively, perhaps not just able to keep pace with fellow humans, but on a level whereby direct communication with machines is no more a remote possibility.

notions of ‘interface’ would slowly dissolve into nothing more than training oneself in binary, wearing signalling devices while connected to a single vast network of humans and machines, closing one’s eyes, meditating, and being offered modes of interaction that have heretofore only been the realm of imagination.

no keyboard, no mouse, no virtual reality googles, no sensor suit.

no further inventions are required for this.
it could happen tomorrow.