T’other day, as we colloquially state here in the North of England, I was cut up, another idiom, by an old lady riding on one of those mobility scooters. Let me describe the scene to you. I was stood at a set of pedestrian crossings waiting for the lights to change, and just as they did a figure sped past me and cut across where I was walking so they could go at a right angle to my direction. It was an old lady, I would hazard at least an octogenarian, on an electric scooter.
There is a growing usage of this type of device as the cost is driven down by availability and numbers. For those who genuinely need them, because of limited mobility or health, they are a godsend. There is though a growing usage of them by the terminally lazy or indolent as well, with a particular problem with obese people, where does one draw the line, should they preserve their health by being carried everywhere resisting stressing their organs, or is this causing further health issues as they have a lack of exercise?
I also cast my mind to the thoughts of science fiction and science fact.
There are many films showing the usage of electronic devices to control and support us, from the chairs in Wall.E to the support unit that does everything in Roujin Z sic-fi authors have predicted the reliance on, and shown us an issue with, our fascination with technology as an aid to our lives.
Recently science has shown that we can start to map language using electrodes attached to the skull, as predicted in the Clint Eastwood vehicle Firefox. Charlie Brooker predicted that this form of technology would lead to the end of the world within six months. His basic premise is true, the randomness of thoughts that go through the head could imply that you’ll be sat next to your child watching kids TV and then suddenly an Internet search will reveal something similar Teletubby Porn just as an ageing relative walks in, then within six months our basic nature will lead to the end of everything.
However, I am not convinced that the researchers will not encounter this issue themselves and have to build in specified content filters. You can see the scene, the first time they hook this up to a young male researcher and tell him to think randomly or relax and let his mind wander you are going to be presented with a variety of images including such possible delights as a giant paedo bear urinating over the felating corpse of a zombie Queen Mother. So there will be restrictions and filters, there will be controls to help prevent this event from occurring.
So we will go into the future with machines increasingly being controlled by impulses from our bodies and replacing bodily functions. To be honest once we have the basic biological form we can start to replicate out the need for certain elements. We can replace lower limbs with wheels for motor location, we can take away most of the torso in fact, the only thing we really need are the brain, the spinal cord and the reproductive and sexual organs. We can feed the organs that remain using a suspension liquid with nutrients inside it, there can be electrodes that provide external stimulus such as sight, sound, touch, taste, smell, heat etc., directly to the brain. We can recreate direct visual worlds similar to proposed in the Matrix right into the brain.
There is, by the way, a good reason to save the reproductive organs as this allows us to have a good mix of DNA for the continuation of the species, but we need only keep them until they reach maturity and then the necessary parts can be harvested at regular intervals in the male and removed entirely for offsite storage if wanted by the female. We must save the sexual organs as this way we can feel actual stimulus of a pleasurable or painful nature. Although I am sure we can simulate the sensation to the brain of an orgasm it will be far better to continue to feel it. Sexual interaction forms a strong part of what defines us as a species and as individuals so losing this would be facile, especially when it can be utilised.
I don’t see the need for their to be a conscious decisions in this future made by people. So we are developing cars that can park themselves, that can measure distances and adjust their speed, that have emergency braking systems and collision alerts. Cars and vehicles will soon drive themselves, but we as humans will worry that humans have been taken too far from the mix. We should have some form of an override, and this cannot be just a thought as you may randomly think don’t brake, or wish in a moment of anger on a phone call to a distressed lover that you would rather the car crash itself and at which point you are suddenly driving at one hundred miles an hour into the nearest concrete pillar.
The safest situation would be to wire the response to danger mechanism to the humans central nervous system. It would also be faster. If all that is needed is an affirmation, then why not have the pain or pleasure response mechanism affirm it. If it is a recognisable danger the human is alerted via the means of an electrical impulse and if it responds the action to negate the situation is taken. That way we can have no need for a conscious decision, there is in fact no need for a brain at all. We just need an acceptable organ to be in control, something that will give a response to stimulus.
The sexual organs being the part of humanity we have saved after the birth and cyborg process would be an ideal component to wire into this. Driving well, doing one’s job well, in fact any interaction that requires a human decision as a failsafe or affirmation would be a sexual sensation.
Therefore one day grandfather’s bollocks may indeed drive the bus.