With Google’s new Glass project — a high fidelity pair of spectacles that place a camera and heads-up display directly in front of your eyeball — it would seem the integration of technology and the human body is destined to become considerably more intimate.
Whether this could lead to time-travelling cyborgs remains to be seen, but with the glasses costing $1,500, you just might end up feeling like one.
A quick glance toward the top-right of your field of vision and you’re presented with maps, messages and videos of kittens.
Your world — the real one, that is — will no longer be inhibited by your virtual life, Google says.
The lines between real and virtual blur with such easy access to email and chat. Our two worlds become increasingly integrated, ever more difficult to separate.
Pause for a moment.
At the same time, it cannot be denied that the brain is a wonderfully talented organ, one that is capable of adaptations that regularly defy scientific explanation.
It’s called neuroplasticity, and like the idea of a fully-functioning computer hanging over your right eyeball, it’s pretty awesome.
Throughout our lives we constantly engage and interact with the world around us. Our minds become inundated with sensory information ranging from the smell of a companion’s hair to that feeling you get in your gut while speedily driving down a steep hill.
All these stimuli have an impact on the chemistry and physical makeup of our brains. From our emotional well being to the amount of sunlight we see every day, new mental highways are being constructed to accommodate this real world data.
Novel challenges become easier as our brains adapt to using the tools at their disposal. A calculator might make math a simpler process, but it could also impact our ability to do those calculations purely in our heads.
People who have been abused or witnesses to tragedy may have different brain chemistries and structures than those having gone through life with relative ease.
But the glaring question for me is this: what happens when you take our virtual world and fuse it to real life?
Naturally, there’s some sort of adaptation between our biological bodies and our silica ones.
We’ve seen recently how regular use of smart phones can affect our health, with many people reporting that they ‘hear’ non-existent alerts from their phones, a possible side effect of constantly checking for updates.
Medical professionals have also warned that smart phones and laptops keep our minds busy toward unnatural hours, leading to a host of potential sleep-related health troubles.
Take a moment to reflect upon how a device like a smart phone can impact your day-to-day life. Several complicated tasks have been reduced to a few taps on a screen. Our abilities to work, produce and play continue long after we’ve left the office. Even communicating with one another has become a detached process.
In one hand, we grow more capable with increased functionality.
In the other, it feels like attaching a pair of training wheels to our minds — did we lose something when math moved to the calculator, when photos left the red room?
Ultimately it comes down to evolution and progress, building on the shoulders of giants, so to speak.
But it would seem that as our minds adapt to the availability of all these toys, living without them might only become a more difficult proposition.
It could be especially worrisome should we have no choice.