A Future With Superhumans - a convo with PhD Daniel H. Wilson

Uploaded by epipheo on 04.06.2012

Jon: I sat down again with Daniel H. Wilson, the bestselling author of Robopocalypse,
and he has a new book out called Amped and instead of being about homicidal robots,
Daniel describes a near future where we
create new technology
that makes us superhuman.
Daniel: Human beings make technology. It's what we do. A cheetah runs fast, human beings
make tools.
And, for the vast majority of human history, our tools have been things that we
hold in our hands.
But I think that we're gonna
have a point in the near future at which our tools are gonna come inside of our bodies.
Jon: Okay, so we do this already for all sorts of things,
and we're still basically human, but what happens when we put technology in our
like we do for epilepsy? Daniel: For instance with epilepsy,
the neural implant is listening for the
sound of a seizure. That's when your neurons just start firing like crazy, so
it's pretty easy to detect relative to
for instance figuring out when someone's thinking about oranges.
When it senses that the seizure is happening
it can stimulate the brain pathways to prevent the seizure.
Jon: So Daniel thinks
we're gonna take these to the next level
with what he calls the neural autofocus. Daniel: It sits in the brain
and it looks for the state of inattention of
someone who is being distracted,
and then in response it stimulates the neurons to push them toward a Beta 1
wave state, which is focused attention.
Jon: When you have one of these things in your brain, you're an amplified human,
which means you have
a special ability to focus, which makes you learn things faster. Or you could use it to
focus on physical activities.
Daniel: There's a certain pattern of movement that happens
again and again and again and again while you're trying to learn how to do
some fine motor activity like that.
It's gonna pick up on that very quickly,
and then it's going to specifically stimulate
the neurons that are associated with that activity so that your
actual brain is changing
Jon: So I guess one day I'm gonna have to decide whether or not I'm going to
get one, right?
Daniel: First it will be people
who have serious problems.
But once we notice that the people who used to be disabled
are now super abled,
regular people are gonna get interested pretty quickly in order to
do their jobs faster, to be more competitive, to be better at sports.
Jon: Is this something you
would elect to do?
Daniel: How insane is it that I've never even thought of that?
Jon: That is pretty crazy.
Daniel: Oh man!
You know what, people aren't going to do this unless they see some huge potential
Because let's face it, you're kinda messing with your brain, right?
And that's scary. And nobody's down for surgery for no reason,
You know, I would not do it unless I saw some
huge perceived benefit.
Or, what if I'm the last one left who hasn't done it
and I'm just
compared to everyone else?
But let's not focus on individuals. What if everybody in China gets issued one of
these things? What if a certain religion decides that this is um...you
know, heretical or something? What if it's not up to you to make the decision?
What if you're a kid
and it's up to your parents to determine whether you need this as a treatment for
some sort of problem
real or perceived? Do professional sports teams let amps play, or is that cheating?
You know, there's a lot to think about.
Jon: Well, I guess I should remind you if you're freaking out right now that this hasn't
happened. Yet.
But in the meantime, you can read all about it in his new sci-fi novel called
Amped, which is available now.
Thanks for chattin'.
Daniel: Thank you.