I’ve been searching for something to blog about this week and I hadn’t come up with anything that spoke to me, until today. Researchers have successfully connected the brains of two rats together and allowing them to share sensory information over the Internet. In the experiments, the rats were connected so that when one rat correctly pressed a level for a reward, the signal was sent to the second rat who then responded correctly and got the reward as well. At first the experiments were conducted locally but then the Internet was used to connect a rat in the U.S. to one in Brazil.
So what does this bring to humanity or more focused, to librarianship? Well the first thing that I thought when reading this article was . . . The Borg! Resistance is Futile!
So will humanity become a collective mind sharing knowledge from around the globed. This ties into another blog post I read earlier in the week and invokes another movie reference: In Japan, The Matrix Is Now Reality As Humans Are Used As Living Batteries.
OK, so despite the fact that a functional human mind-melding global humanity is decades away, what would be the potential of this technology to librarianship?
When attempting to demonstrate how to search for an item to a student, especially when that student is remotely connected, it can be a trying task with deadends and missed directions. Even with remote viewing capabilities, sometimes the understanding of the process can be lost. Now bring in direct mind-to-mind connectivity. The librarian could transmit his/her thoughts to the patron and connect at a deep level of understanding. Google would love to connect librarians to their collective so that searchers would be able to directly connect to subject experts. If searches take milliseconds now, imagine direct mind-conducted searches. “I already know the answer before I even thought about the question.” Would we stop there? What about connecting to the mind of an expert in a scientific field to gather access for a book report? How would you cite that information? Would there be controls (well most definitely) to allow guarded access? Would foil hats come into style?
This is a lighthearted exploration of “What-if’s?” But as technology continues to create new ways to gather, collect and access information. Librarians will need to be at the forefront to make sense of these tools, less they overwhelm us (Skynet).
For a more scientific reference to the Brain-to-Brain research see the following article:
Pais-Vieira, M., Lebedev, M., Kunicki, C., Wang, J., & Nicolelis, M. A. L. (2013). A brain-to-brain interface for real-time sharing of sensorimotor information. Scientific Reports, 3. doi: 10.1038/srep01319