Brain refresh mechanism

I just read the transcript of an excellent podcast by Brian Roemmele and Jim O’Shaughnessy covering the intelligence amplifier and other ideas.

Engineering is rather like walking along a pebble beach with a friend. You’ll both experience broadly the same beach and will generally agree on the big picture stuff, but you’ll notice different pebbles. So it is with the field of connecting IT with our bodies and minds. Many engineers have worked in the field and in spite of a lot of overlap, there are enough differences in background, skillset, perception and approach that we’ll often come up with alternative ideas and insights, and even different solutions to the same problems.

In this case, it was clear we’ve both explored the issue of our brain forgetting information and experiences, and although forgetting can be highly useful tool in creativity, it can also severely limit our ability to think. If you could recall every book, every lecture, every idea, how much better might you be able to think through a new idea? I found a short article I wrote 30 years ago on this very problem. Most of it would still be valid now, and it doesn’t even contravene Roemele’s consciousness bandwidth limit. Here it is:

Brain refresh mechanism, April 1991

The Macintosh has a desktop rebuild facility, which restores links between applications and documents. Norton utilities on the Mac have a further facility for repairing directories so that lost information can be found.

Adding these facilities, and working out the brain equivalent, this would perhaps be the same as restoring all one’s memories and skills, since all previous links in the brain would be restored. This sounds very sci-fi but there may be a way of doing this. It requires some modest advances in technology and maybe biology and psychology too but doesn’t everything?

It is well known that electrical stimulation on certain parts of the brain will stimulate memory recall, and this can be so accurate as to be the equivalent of re-living an experience. When this happens, the brain then restores those links in memory which had been lost and the person will remember this experience afresh (and probably eventually forget it in the same way). It is conceivable (but not certain) that if many points could be stimulated that large areas of memory could be rebuilt.

Obviously, it would not be desirable to carry out an operation to do this so it would need to be done remotely. Suppose that a safe (but electromagnetically responsive) fluid could be injected into the blood-stream. Suppose then that an electromagnetic field could be created at any desired point so that a localised high intensity was to result (this technique is already well established in radio-therapy). With the right choice of fluid, this could possibly result in sufficient stimulation to achieve the same effect as direct electrical stimulation. Since the electromagnetic field could be steered, presumably a complete brain refresh could eventually be achieved, with great enhancement in knowledge and skill.

Given the appropriate advances in CAT techniques and the discovery of suitable fluids, the rest is down to experimentation.

It is possible, although more unlikely and certainly further future, that information could be directly stored in the brain using this technique, accelerating learning and directly conveying information. By then, other more direct brain interfaces may have been developed, for transactions in either direction.

Possibly a silly idea.

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