The former head of DARPA, Arati Prabhakar, has a dream. It’s a civilian utopian neuroscience dream that’s kind of the inverse of the scenarios that the far-out research wing of the military normally develops.
In a presentation at the Aspen Ideas Festival, which is co-hosted by the Aspen Institute and The Atlantic, she’d just shown a video from University of Utah research in which a soldier who’d lost his arms “felt” a virtual door through neural stimulation.
She cautioned that the research was very new and “not yet a robust capability, but even at this stage, we can start to see that there will be some mind-bending questions about how we use these technologies in the future.” Prabhakar noted that from a technological point of view, “there’s not much distance from restoration to enhancement.”
She asked the audience: “Do you think the future we’re going to live in a society where neuro-enhancements will be a privilege? Will they be a right? Might they be a mandate? Or maybe the whole idea is gonna creep us out so much that we won’t want anything to do with it.”
Mandated neuroenhancements certainly seem creepy to me!
“But imagine if you could learn a new language as fast as a 6-year-old,” she continued. “Or imagine if you could experience a whole new palette of colors or a fourth physical dimension in space.”