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Scientists discover that electrical stimulation of the brain allows one to learn faster by uploading directly to the brain.
Could a future where one can learn simply by downloading knowledge directly into their brain be something that most of us will live to see? Possibly not, but scientists have recently developed a significant step towards that futuristic world. The researchers do not claim to have developed a means by which one can learn a skill simply by downloading it. Such technology does not yet exist. Researchers have, however, created a system by which one can speed up the rate at which they learn a skill through electrical stimulation of the brain.
Learning causes the brain to physically change shape. When one learns a skill or neglects it, parts of the brain can grow and shrink. Which parts of the brain grow as a result of learning one skill, or another is already well understood. This includes an understanding of which parts of the brain grow when one learns to fly an airplane. Could electrical stimulation of the parts of the brain responsible for piloting skill accelerate learning?
Apparently, it can. The device already works – it is no longer merely a theoretical idea. The device has been tested on pilots, and their learning rate sped up by 33 percent. The parts of the brain that needed to grow were able to grow faster in this way. Being able to learn a skill 33% faster is far from being able to simply download knowledge. Nonetheless, this is a useful and impressive piece of technology.
How worried should we be about human modification? Will only the rich be able to afford it, thus increasing inequality in the world? Will we modify ourselves so much that we cease to be human at all? How afraid should we be of this new technology? While one might be right to be afraid of human modification, the future often turns out to be less futuristic than one expected it to be. Perhaps, a future full of excessive, harmful, and unfair human modification simply will not happen. This technology, after all, does not seem frightening. As well as being able to allow people to learn faster, one could imagine this sort of technology allowing people to learn something that they do not have the natural talent for.