Wednesday March 12, 2014
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Quite some time ago I wrote a science fiction novel in which a computer had become nothing more than a small wristwatch sized thing strapped on a left wrist. It had no external controls at all because it was controlled by the mind of its owner, who could see the screen in a "minds-up" display much like the heads-up display in a USAF aircraft cockpit.
I have been reading and writing science fiction for a long time, long before the days of "space operas," where anything is possible, even the forever-to-be-impossible. When I grew interested in science fiction back in the 1940's it was based on extrapolated ideas; in other words on something that might reasonably be true some day, not on people doing impossible things which will always stay impossible. And so that's how I write.
It comes as no news to most people that our brains produce weak electrical signals as we think, so the possibility of controlling something by controlling those signals always was a possibility.
But now it is a fact. Read this:
Here's a headline from CNN: "A toy helicopter controlled by nothing but brainwaves could be available to the public just in time to hover under this year's Christmas tree."
It was inevitable. Read on.
Mind you, this bird ain't gonna fly too high just yet. All it can do is this:
"When you concentrate, up it goes; when you mentally relax, it comes back down again."
It doesn't fly around the room shooting down flies. It just goes up and comes down.
However, that is just the beginning. Why? Because of something known as feedback. This is not new. I was teaching it in my teaching methods classes back in 1967.
Here's how you learn to throw a ball and hit something with it. You pick it up. You throw it. You either hit or miss. If you miss you try again. If you miss again, you adjust. Each time you throw the ball you are receiving feedback; that is, you can see what happened. And you therefore can adjust. Each time you adjust a message travels down neural pathways that control your movements. Sooner or later you create a neural pathway that is correct, or as correct as it can be. That is a called--ta! ta!--learning. Once you learn to throw the ball accurately you can move on to learning something similar. So, when you were a baby all you could do at first was wriggle like a worm, then you learned to reach for things, to crawl, to sit up, to walk, to talk, to chase the other sex.
You need to know more. Here's more:
Do anything. Doesn't matter what it is. Try--say--pointing your right index finger at your right knee. Now: Tell me how you did it. You don't know, do you? Nor do I. Nor does anyone. We do not know how we do things. We have simply "learned" to do them.
Write your name on a piece of paper. How did your hand know: (a) What to write? (b) How to make all those movements? We don't know. We are unable to see our minds in action.
Next consideration: Suppose you tried to get your mind to do something that seemed impossible? Suppose you tried to--say--raise your heart rate, or slow it down? Could you do it? No, not unless there were some form of feedback.
Okay, what if we add feedback? Suppose we put a blood pressure cuff on your wrist, put the screen where you can read it, and then ask you to "want" to lower your heart rate? What will happen? Slowly but surely you will learn how to do it, just as you learned to throw that ball. If fact, you will get very good at it. And you can do the same with anything that you can have feedback for--blood pressure, heart rate, temperature. You can lower the temperature in your right hand and raise it in your left ear at the same time. You are very good at learning to do things.
So, we attach you to something that is affected by your brain waves (we put a receiver of some kind on you head, and transit signals to the "something").
You try to--say--fly a helicopter around the room. Given time you will do it, and once you earn to do it through feedback you will then be able to do it all the time, just as you can talk, read, and write.
Take a guess.
Just as an aside, the ability of the mind to control things that we don't know it can control goes a long way in explaining many things: Placebos, acupuncture, voodoo, hysterical illness, stress related illness, hands-on cures, and much else.
Also explains why some people go around wearing aluminum foil hats. :-)
Wait! Wait! Wait! I thought those tinfoil hats were all the fashion. You mean I should be wearing it for other reasons? ;-)
What will happen to the helicopter with people like me that forgets what I am saying in the middle of a sentence? My thoughts just go away. (:
All that little bird can do is go up and go down. If you can't concentrate it will go down. I imagine its inventor built into it some way for it to come down slowly.
You don't have to feel alone, by the way. My thoughts go away too.
Why do you think we used to wear those steel helmets? Kept us from falling for all the propaganda. And now...? With the plastic ones...?
Now you know what's happening to the troops. :-)
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