Since 2015 there’s a paper that has absolutely eaten me alive, neuron by neuron. It’s called “Using space and time to encode vibrotactile information: toward an estimate of the skin’s achievable throughput (Eagleman, Novich)” and causes my mind to be absolutely paralyzed by possibilities. Sensory substitution! What a thought, Eagleman!
Of course, Paul Bach-y-Rita was one of the original OG’s in this realm.
& now, Elon Musk continues to seek talent for up-&-coming Neuralink – which promises to offer high-bandwidth brain-to-computer interfaces. Hm. Not a bad idea, especially when you consider the therapeutic applications of existing brain-to-computer technologies.
To research or work on any of these technologies would be the opportunity of a lifetime, & I’d cancel pretty much everything in my life right now to pursue them if only I knew how. In the meantime the opportunity to sit back and learn is available & my cynical little mind is already shouting out some words of caution.
BRAIN-TO-COMPUTER-INTERFACES-ARE-NEVER-GONNA-HAPPEN!, says cynical brain
Well, nothing interesting that ever happened was ever-going-to-happen. New inventions are just crazy, that’s how it is!
(this back-and-forth arguing continues). The primary concern is whether or not a high-bandwidth brain-to-machine interface for general-purpose use would be a good thing. Musk & others are right when they say that a keyboard isn’t enough to transmit a certain amount of information back-and-forth. But is that enough to support the overall claim that as it relates to human beings using and interfacing with information technology, quality of communication is proportional to the bandwidth of the information being passed along? Childish idealism runs rampant in my thoughts now – I’d like to go to coffee w a clever human like Elon & ask them, ‘will the problems you foresee with AI actually be solved by brain-machine interfaces or will they be worsened? Will the malicious capabilities of technology be diminished if humans are more closely linked w technology?’ It seems even a pen and paper (even morse code!) are often not enough for humans to communicate effectively, promptly, or sufficiently. It leads me to wonder if the tech-augmented hippocampus & cortex, adorned with messy glued-on silicon chips, might not be a devastatingly unhealthy Matrix-esque nightmare of limbic slop.
That coffee date won’t be happening anytime soon so in the meantime I’ll have to scroll from afar & hope these technologies work, & serve the common good.
followed by the first real d e e p b r e a t h
pulling onto two pant-legs like the opposites of ripcords that will flexion the parachute you folded yourself,
but maybe not skillfully,
mostly through browser tabs.
here’s to the creepy guys who square their hips towards the middle of rooms and bark about how the best defense is a good offense, for all the wrong reasons what they’re saying is true, and here’s to the trivial sounds that i hear in my head that bark about , for all the wrong reasons what they’re saying is extremely fucking false. they say it’s:
a ahh cake-trim astro-turf
emptyyah band-aid box
sort of knowing
dont worry – it will only last 250 milliseconds. you say that a fancy science book told you that. but ever since these apes started getting their kicks off of a screen – worse, off of reading ambling lines of provocative prose – fakery is the norm
didn’t plan on writing this & will simply type as quickly as possible
- The names, basic character traits, and small happenings of my neighbors (or folks within a few-blocks-radius)
- What the fuck over-easy over-hard sunny-side-up etc. means with eggs. But do I really care to know that? Not really
- how people think
- whether or not i’m the type of person who would fuck up with power tools (slice an arm off), or be skilled with them (masterful craftsperson), or just some unremarkable middle version of those things
- what’s up with theatre- and performance-related behaviors
- how to quit eating meat
- about this strange-tendency-to-almost-communicate-with-nonhuman-animals (EG cat can be prompted to come over/come, but not to do other things, why)
- how it feels to be physically addled with _______________ (shrapnel wounds, severe scarring, crohn’s, chronic mysterious unknown undiagnosed pain, bizarre allergies, a broken femur after a car accident, an issue with healthy eating, etc)
- the lakes of tokyo
- the rivers of china
- the various greeneries of ireland
- the speculations that occur while swimming between Hawaiian islands
- what cartoonists think about when they’re drawing/rendering all those goddamned cartoons for movies. do they think about cartoons on their cigarette breaks & about cigarettes while drawing?
- how it feels to be a really good dancer
- how it feels to have 2 dogs at home who miss you a lot
- whatever happened with that airport/welcome home sign
- how street signs are made
- it’d be neat to know about these mathematician motherfuckers who are able to connect issues like the growth/division of tree branches with the hox genes that influence embryonic development, i mean what do those mathematician motherfuckers do for fun? play bridge? go on hiking trips based out of their used Subarus? apply for tenure? What do they do?
- how to knit things
- how to be that ultimate overall survival-cool-badass-guy who can whittle knives out of sand and shit like that, even though deep down there’s probably a knowing that it’ll never be necessary
- proper dancing strategies
- whether or not i’m really interested in 100 different things
- the applicability of neuroscience studies
- carving vs other aspects of striking
- basic newtonian mechanics & internalizing them
- how the fuck does mental math work?
- how would it feel to practice _________ religion? how would people look at me if i believed ______________? If I wore _____________, signifying _________________?
- what sorts of funny mess-ups (or successes) have occurred in the unseen and unknown ERs of the world? has anyone ever made an IV out of a drinking straw?
- How old the average person is when they learn how to cite APA/harvard/MLA style etc. without consulting google. On second thought, maybe the average person never learns these things
- how it feels to really travel
- what the maintenance guys who painted the apartment hallways thought about while they were painting
- why my arm itches so badly right now
- whether or not the strong compulsion to have a career related to pharmacology / microbiology / molecular neuroscience will be fruitful. is the specific material dance of biochemical happenings going to lead to helpful insights? is it better to just have friends/colleagues/who work in that area?
- if bruce lee were still alive……just, i mean, what if? (sigh) that’d be neat
- what does dr. dre think about when he’s pissed off? does he have a lot of alone time?
- what makes a good writer? is it a danger to even ask?
- which crazy motherfucker was the first one to hop on a horse & just be like, “hey, let’s ride”
- are there review boards that assess/test the tastes of vodka? what are the qualifications for being on such a board, and on average, what is the makeup of vodka taste-testers?
- how would it feel to be 22 years deep into a life sentence at a federal prison, & still not be 40 years old, & to spend 23 hours a day in a tiny cage? which moments would feel peaceful?
- who just facebook messaged me?
- What’s it like to set & achieve a 10-year goal? a 20-year goal?
- What’re the ways to best support others in achieving their 10-year goals? 20-year goals?
- What’re the ways to best be there & support others who don’t / will never achieve their 10-year goals? 20-year goals ?
- Now that I can make my own sorbet, how long til I’m dead?
- what’s with limbic systems? crying & laughing have a weird amount in common. It’s like a rubber band stretching too far & snapping back into place – a teeter totter smacking into the ground. the teeter totter is itself a 3d object that when viewed from the side pretty much forms a line, tilting back and forth upon a center point. one might look at this line in front of them & imagine that there is a graph, with this line superimposed on it. when the teeter totter is perfectly balanced the line runs left-right, and when the teeter totter is tipping the line is tipping along the axes (say the center point of the teeter-totter is at (0,3) and the teeter totter is exactly 10 units long. when you consider laughing & crying you’ll notice that they take place during extreme mood states & that often, though not always, they are followed by a mood state that is less extreme or closer to baseline. examples of this might include – the way that extreme laughter due to a joke, tickling, built-up tension, simmering awkwardness, or actual discomfort eventually dispels itself and leads back to a real calm. other examples might include – that calm, semi-orgasmic feeling after a serious cry. let’s think less about what crying/laughter means culturally & more about what it means inside your fleshsack – your heart rate is increasing, you’re heaving, convulsing, & your eyes are leaking. whether it’s a friend stabbing at your armpits with a tickly finger or a friendly uppercut to the same area, the average human will avoid allowing un-boned and un-skinned tissues to potential forces. tickling looks a lot like a pain response, is what i’m getting at. what’s about that? why does the extreme limbic state – that of panic, anxiety, crying – feel so much like that WHACK on your ass on the teeter totter – that which pushes you back, more forcefully than before, into a baseline? I would go as far to say that the limbic momentum leading into a cry does predict & have an influence on the speed & nature of the bounce-back. so, when a fit of crying-due-to-laughter comes on QUICKLY & sharply, or a fit of crying-due-to-sadness comes on slowly and chronically, the come-down from those experiences is (respectively) similar. Why? If we took the slope of the teeter totter in the aforementioned graph (assuming the teeter totter bounces/stops when its endpoints strike the x-axis) it would vary between +3/4 and -3/4. let’s say the change in slope over time is predictive of the limbic response – so, say, the teeter totter starts tipped. we can say the left half is tipped/touching the ground in this example. when it bounce up to baseline the slope changes – from +3/4 to 0. it just seems that the feedback limiting one’s crying/laughing to a certain point has a fulcrum, & that it must be biological. folks with mood issues & poor regulation of their limbic systems might have unbalanced teeter totters – overly-slippery in mania, overly-rusted in depression-etc. what’s with that? I’d like to know why tickling/pain responses seem so similar, and how people differ in having accelerated/fast or delayed/slow limbic responses to events. It just seems so weird, that laughing/crying similarity.
- how many youtube videos about karate do i have to watch before becoming, yknow, like a really tough guy?
- what’s the difference between me and you? (about five bank accounts, 3 ounces, and 2 vehicles)
Then a mason came forth and said, Speak to us of Houses. And the Prophet answered and said:
Build of your imaginings a bower in the wilderness ere you build a house within the city walls. For even as you have home-comings in your twilight, so has the wanderer in you, the ever distant and alone.
Your house is your larger body.
It grows in the sun and sleeps in the stillness of the night; and it is not dreamless. Does not your house dream? and dreaming, leave the city for grove or hill-top? Would that I could gather your houses into my hand, and like a sower scatter them in forest and meadow. Would the valleys were your streets, and the green paths your alleys, that you might seek one another through vineyards, and come with the fragrance of the earth in your garments.
But these things are not yet to be.
In their fear your forefathers gathered you too near together. And that fear shall endure a little longer. A little longer shall your city walls separate your hearths from your fields. And tell me, people of Orphalese, what have you in these houses? And what is it you guard with fastened doors? Have you peace, the quiet urge that reveals your power? Have you remembrances, the glimmering arches that span the summits of the mind? Have you beauty, that leads the heart from things fashioned of wood and stone to the holy mountain? Tell me, have you these in your houses? Or have you only comfort, and the lust for comfort, that stealthy thing that enters the house as a guest, and then becomes a host, and then a master?
Ay, and it becomes a tamer, and with hook and scourge makes puppets of your larger desires. Though its hands are silken, its heart is of iron. It lulls you to sleep only to stand by your bed and jeer at the dignity of the flesh. It makes mock of your sound senses, and lays them in thistledown like fragile vessels. Verily the lust for comfort murders the passion of the soul, and then walks grinning in the funeral.
But you, children of space, you restless in rest, you shall not be trapped nor tamed. Your house shall not be an anchor but a mast. It shall not be a glistening film that covers a wound, but an eyelid that guards the eye. You shall not fold your wings that you may pass through doors, nor bend your heads that they strike not against a ceiling, nor fear to breathe lest walls should crack and fall down. You shall not dwell in tombs made by the dead for the living. And though of magnificence and splendour, your house shall not hold your secret nor shelter your longing. For that which is boundless in you abides in the mansion of the sky, whose door is the morning mist, and whose windows are the songs and the silences of night.