Robert Maxwell wrote:
Do you really think most people will be okay with cybernetically modifying their bodies, having all sorts of implants, enhancements, etc.? What about the legal ramifications? What impact will this have on education, sports, and human health in general? Instead, the talk is all about how cool it would be if we could do all this, and that we'll soon have the ability. Maybe we will, maybe we won't, but it's foolish to believe that once it is possible and practical, everyone will do it "just because."
I know this wasn't directed at me, but I spent such a long time researching this subject I can't help but comment:
Certain people ALREADY use implants regularly for cosmetic purposes, as well as certain medical implants (glasses, pacemakers, contact lenses, etc) which have discrete utilities. It's not hard to imagine that new functionality built into existing non-functional implants (earrings, for example) could enable a sort of bottom-up cybernetic revolution; bluetooth-enabled earrings become more common, "smart glasses" with HUD and GUI displays, etc. There's also likely to be a subculture among adopters of this technology that is really "in to" that sort of thing way more than everyone else.
As with a lot of things, it won't exactly transform the fundamental nature of human existence (except on a purely philosophical level) but for those who adopt this technology -- especially more advanced forms of it like brain-computer interfaces -- it WILL begin to blur the lines between man and machine.
All that stuff is a pretty far cry from (as you mentioned) brain implants that increase mental capacity/power/storage. I think there would be substantial societal, regulatory, and ethical hurdles to get over before something like that even approaches being a routine occurrence.
I think most of the development will be where it is now: in repairing/replacing existing physiological functions that are defective in some way. Think giving blind people new cybernetic eyes that work roughly as well as natural ones.
I think it moves into totally different territory once you talk about actually enhancing
people's natural capabilities with implanted technological devices. It upends a lot of what we take for granted. For instance, say we start implanting people with flash drives of a large capacity. What do you then do about taking exams or other tests of knowledge? Does having the requisite information in a solid-state brain implant still count as "knowledge" or "expertise"? I find those implications a lot more interesting (and ultimately problematic) than what will be technically possible.