Ever wanted a black belt in Aikido, to speak fluent Spanish and French, or to become the greatest thumb wrestler the world has ever known?
If you have, but lacked the discipline to achieve such lofty goals, there might be hope for you yet.
For according to scientists, acquiring such skills may soon involve nothing more than uploading information to the brain, much like the characters in the Matrix trilogy did.
Based in Boston University and the ATR Computational Neuroscience Laboratories in Kyoto, Japan, the scientists have been studying how a functional magnetic resonance machine (FMRI) can “induce” knowledge in someone’s visual cortex by sending signals to the brain.
This process is called Decoded Neurofeedback, or DecNef. Here the subject has their brain activity changed to a “target pattern”, which could be anything from a master swordsman to a Tchaikovsky style pianist.
The good news for the hopelessly quixotic types is that virtually no discipline is required here whatsoever, as you could soon ‘upload’ such masterly skills while simply taking a nap.
Lead researcher Takeo Watanabe, from the University of Boston, says “adult early visual areas are sufficiently plastic to cause visual perceptual learning”.
Dr Watanabe made the conclusion after exposing a number of volunteers to DecNef learning. Upon taking a visual skills tests, the volunteers were found to post far better results than those that weren’t exposed to the treatment.
Thus Dr Watanabe and his team have predicted it’s “not too far away” when humans will link a computer to their brain to master skills that typically take a lifetime to develop.
However, by taking away core aspects of the human psyche, such as discipline and patience, Dr Watanabe’s probing could send the human race spiraling further into an ever growing trend of cultural decadence.
Then again, the research could open the doorway to the human mind, showing us just how deep the rabbit hole goes. And if it did, would you want to know?