ramble on neurotech in the modern age
In college, I wanted to be a cyborg.
My friends and I would spend the better part many evenings discussing the future of blending mind and machine. We would discuss mind altering drugs and the latest advances in neurotechnology. It was really fun! I was really excited about the prospect of controlling something with my thoughts and of having technology to help me understand my mind. I was sold on the cyberpunk dream.
It wasn't just talk by any means. We would measure our brain waves and use them to control quadcopters and robot arms and run experiments to see if we could detect which words we would forget. I ran a dozen workshops on these topics and somehow ended up in a neuroscience phd program.
At some points, I met some people who were really quite confusing. They seemed interested in neurotechnology but not as much into neuroscience. They would often talk about the far future. Recently, I read a few essays breaking down the philosophies of transhumanism and the connected longtermism and it started piecing together in my mind. There is often an intersection of interest in cryogenics, singularity, neurotech, and philosophy.
It gave me kind of a jolt. Was I part on some cult? Is all this work on neurotech just fluff for a transhumanist future where humans must be enhanced in order to be part of civilization? I renounced Christianity and now here I am integrated within yet another religion?
My motivations were clear, I've always been in this because it's fun, because I think it's empowering to play around with how my body interacts with information, because of the promise of completely new realms of experiences.
Still, I can't deny that some of the interest and funding for this comes from some shady people, those whose driving philosophy is to accelerate the consumption of resources and control how our society develops. It's getting more and more confusing whether playing around with neurotech and teaching others about it actually benefits the people. Are we liberating our brains from physical constraints or are we chaining our minds to corporations?
In the end, I still hold on to the dream of a cyberpunk reality where we exercise radical autonomy over our personal bodies and how they interact with technology. For this dream, I'll carry on a bit longer.