The Singularity is Far: A Neuroscientist's View

David J. Linden is the author of a new book,The Compass of Pleasure: How Our Brains Make Fatty Foods, Orgasm, Exercise, Marijuana, Generosity, Vodka, Learning, and Gambling Feel So Good. He is a professor of neuroscience at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and Chief Editor of the Journal of Neurophysiology.

Ray Kurzweil, the prominent inventor and futurist, can't wait to get nanobots into his brain. In his view, these devices will be equipped with a variety of sensors and stimulators and will communicate wirelessly with computers outside of the body. In addition to providing unprecedented insight into brain function at the cellular level, brain-penetrating nanobots would provide the ultimate virtual reality experience. In an interview with GOOD magazine, Kurzweil says:

"By the late 2020s, nanobots in our brain, that will get there noninvasively, through the capillaries, will create full-immersion virtual-reality environments from within the nervous system. So if you want to go into virtual reality the nanobots shut down the signals coming from your real senses and replace them with the signals that your brain would be receiving if you were actually in the virtual environment. So this will provide full-immersion virtual reality incorporating all of the senses."

Of course, there's no reason why these nanobots must be restricted in their manipulations to the sensory portions of the brain. In Kurzweil's scenario, brain nanobots could just as easily manipulate motor functions, cognitive processes, memories, emotions, and basic drives. But nanobot-mediated virtual reality, virtual emotion, and modulated cognition are only the beginning. Read the rest