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What If You Had a Google Brain Implant?

By Christopher Schonberger

Today’s hot topic is, “What would happen if you could get Google brain implant?” It would be pretty sick, right? You could check your e-mail in your head, watch YouTube clips in your “mind’s eye,” and reel off semi-accurate information from Wikipedia mid-conversation.

But what about the downside? The sci-fi geeks over a io9 have run an interesting little thought experiment on the “pros and cons of a Google brain implant” [via Lifehacker], which apparently features in the forthcoming novel Rolling Thunder by John Varley. I think this is the most interesting point:

PRO: Instant access to infinite data storage allows you to quickly store your every interesting thought, and search through them instantly. More innovative ideas result.
CON: Over reliance on “offloaded” memory means people make less of an effort to remember important things and therefore brain flexibility actually erodes. Ideas become boring repetitions of what you’ve thought up before, or what other people have thought up and posted on the Web.

Recently, I have become convinced that the Internet is destroying my ability to retain information. Anytime I cannot immediately summon the fact that I want, I immediately Google it. On my cell phone, I can search my e-mail to remember someone’s name who I’ve met dozens of time. If I took a few moments to jog my memory and maybe “strengthen a few synapses,” would I be able to figure these things out for myself? I hope so, though I rarely take the time to find out.
I also have practical concerns about the Google brain implant:

  • Would you need to be in a Wi-Fi area for it to work?
  • Would you actually have to “read” webpages in your brain or could you just sort of instantly “know” them? In the former case, the implant would make conversations sort of awkward.
  • Would this invention (A) revolutionize, or (B) destroy the concept of a “spank bank”? Difficult one to figure out…

Obviously we could spend the whole day talking about what the future’s going to be like, but I was wondering how people feel that the growing dependence on technology affects them on a practical level, particularly at work. On the one hand, the definition of “competence” could be the ability to recognize the resources you need to solve a problem. If you are incredible at using the Internet, then you can appear extremely competent. But on the other hand, the immediate reliance on pre-existing ideas/facts/solutions could definitely stifle the potential for originality in certain situations.

So, do you rely on the Internet too much at work? Let us know what you think in the comments…

Bonus: Is this what happens when you’re so reliant on Wikipedia that you forget what beer tastes like?

Beer from Amir on Vimeo

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