Monday, March 3, 2014

Connect Me and Get $Paid$

I struggled over exactly how to title this particular post.  I'm guessing that most people, at least at first glance, will think that I'm about to write about LinkedIn or networking of some kind.  While that might make for an interesting read, I'm actually thinking about something else.

Over the past 20 years, humans as a species have gained access to more information and data than anyone could have thought possible in just 1995.  The six year old child of today can access more raw and/or refined data, as an individual, than could every member of the human species, collectively, for all of history.  That is, all history before 1990.  So if a child of today has this capability, what about the rest of us adults?  The truth is that there is more information available to both you and me, right now with the devices within our reach, than we could ever consume. By. Far.  And that's a huge problem for our civilization.

So what's the point?  What's the actual problem?  Let's start with a few questions.  How many of you reading right now do any of the following:
  • Drive while talking on a cellphone, checking texts, and reading emails (when stopped in traffic like me, of course)
  • Check your smart phone every five minutes.  That includes touching it just to make sure it's still there
  • Take a tablet or a laptop with you to watch TV and actually work on those devices while your show is on
  • Check sports scores or news during events when you're not supposed to be on a device
  • Text someone not present while having a meal with someone else
  • Respond to messages during meetings
I don't need to have anyone answer these questions.  The plain truth is that we are all doing most, if not all of the bullet points above.  But the issue that nobody discusses is why we are all "guilty" of these actions. (I say "guilty" because some of the points above have actually become legislated crimes)  For what purpose would almost everyone in the United States, and probably most of the networked world be doing these things?  There has to be a payoff because of the downside of so much connectivity.  The blogger "RooGirl" lists 25 negatives to always being online here.  She also links to an article in the LA Times that says people who are heavily linked into their technology will die off more quickly than those who aren't!

I believe the problem lies less with being connected and more with the manner in which we connect.  Some studies that I have read (but don't cite here) indicate that a seeing (non-blind) human can process about 8 kilobytes (KB) of visual information, or about 10-12 separate images, per second.  That's not much information for the human brain.  Because the eyes do not give us enough information to keep the brain stimulated, humans try to do multiple things at once.  Some call it "multitasking", although I think that term is too simplistic.  There is so much information to be processed and all us want to "drink" from more than just one source at a time. 

No, the real problem lies less in multitasking and more in our interface to information.

For over 50 years, our sole legitimately useful interface with computing devices has been comprised of a screen, keyboard, and most times a mouse.  Yes, there are other exotic interfaces out there that include line-of-sight and voice options, but they are most definitely not mainstream.  What I want/need; what we all want/need; is a more direct way to access, process, and interact with multiple streams of data.  That's not going to happen with the keyboard and screen technology of yesteryear.

The answer has been in science fiction books and shows for years now.  What our planet is demanding and what will emerge as a result of this demand are neural interfaces.  Just what form they will take is up for debate.  But I can tell you that "seeing" and processing information inside of our brains, not outside as done today, is going to be the next big evolution in computing.

So, if you want to be the world's first trillionaire, I would suggest that you start work on neural computing interfaces.  If you can connect me that way and your method works, I promise you that you'll...get...paid.  In fact, you will become the richest person in history.  What are you waiting for?


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