A Collective Mind or the Borg are Coming

A rat with a brain-to-brain implant
Photograph: Scientific Reports via The Guardian article

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!

borg
Star Trek

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?

foilhat
Movie “Signs”

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

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6 thoughts on “A Collective Mind or the Borg are Coming

  1. ” The librarian could transmit his/her thoughts to the patron and connect at a deep level of understanding” this would solve a lot of reference desk issues.
    joseph

  2. Wow, this is fascinating. It also brings a whole new level of meaning to reference services. A big part of the traditional “reference interview” involves trying to figure out what it is that the user actually needs. Often times, the question that the user asks doesn’t necessarily reflect the true information need of the user. If we could simply cut through the process of the reference interview and see what the user was thinking, it might make reference services more efficient and effective!

  3. Would I have to be trained to ward off corporate espionage trying to get into my head and implant thoughts like destroying my multi-billion dollar company?

    INCEPTION. Bwwwwaaaa.

    I’m with Jodi, my thinking is that the user shares their information seeking thoughts.

    And much like the internet, the moment we start being telepaths, lots of privacy laws will be debated. I’ll refer you to the 112th episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation “Violations” and 40th episode of Star Trek: Enterprise “Stigma”.

  4. I’ll see your “Violations” and raise you a “Dark Pages” episode. Lwaxana Troi is able to help the Cairn who cannot express their thoughts by reading their minds. Patrons who cannot verbalize their search needs would benefit from a full Betazoid.

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