Achieving Telepathy: Mind To Mind Communication

by Randy Tsang

  • Can the advancement of technology allow humans to communicate directly between each other’s brains?
  • What implications will this have on humans’ ability to communicate with each other and with computers?

Back when I was a child, one of my favourite books to read was The Chrysalids by John Wyndham. This book is the story of a small group of telepaths living in a post-apocalyptic society that resembles the American frontier of the 18th century. In it, Wyndham makes references to a socially and technologically evolved society where telepaths are the norm. The details of this society are never fully revealed in the story, but it is alluded to as an advanced and peaceful community of telepaths that exist and work together as a hive mind where thoughts, knowledge and emotion are easily transferable throughout the community.

Although this book exists very much in the realms of science fiction, there is plenty of evidence around us today that suggests that such a society may not be completely beyond our grasp. Our knwoledge of the human brain is growing every day and there are plenty of examples where scientists have been able to read and input information directly into the brain via electrical signals. The video below details an experiment by researchers at Southampton University that demonstrates a proof of concept of direct person to person transmission of information without the need of an interface.

You can read a little more about this experiment in this article.

There are also examples of how networks of computers perform tasks more powerfully than individual computers by harnessing the processing power of multiple devices. Folding@home is a distributed computing project that uses the excess capacity of home computers to simulate models of “protein folding.” The potential of networks does not have to stop with computers. InnoCentive is an example of a company harnessing the excess capacity of people, mainly amateur scientists, to solve chemical and biological problems that even the most well funded corporations are not able to solve in house.

Previous posts on this blog have looked at possible changes in the nature of communication and collaboration within the context of a very near future with relatively modest technological developments. More optimistic models of future trends and economic developments provide a vastly different picture that some people would consider to be approaching the realms of science fiction. Kurzweil-ian economics postulates that by 2019 we will have a $1,000 home computer with the processing power of a human brain and that the sum computing power of all computers will exceed the processing power of the entire human race combined. Such a development would have profound implications not only how people communicate with each other but also how they communicate with the artificial intelligence that may follow. These kind of developments would instigate paradigm shift in how people interact with each other and will require a new definition of what it is to be an intelligent being. This is predicted to happen perhaps within our lifetime but certainly within the generation that follows. And that would be just the beginning.