So, I wrote an insipid warning of the super-progressive burst of technology and some (highly) theoretical consequences of not understanding, both the technology itself, but also its unholy success in our lives. Like the eventual discovery and development of the throwing arm, it was something that was bound to happen. Electricity is already a part of us, it’s how our bodies communicate with its insides.
Anyway, a little more than a year after I wrote “the Media Nerve,” there was a lovely documentary about that very same thing…, except in favor of technology. It raised the same questions, proposed the same “radical changes,” but there wasn’t fear or concern. It was biased, as I say, in favor of, but it was a nice showing of the other side. It was part of National Geographic series called “Breakthrough,” the particular episode was “More than Human” presented by Paul Giamatti.
It made me wonder, am I looking at this the wrong way? It’s hard to fully accept or trust things like technology and media because I really don’t understand them. I understand how they work, but what are they doing -to- me? What are the far-reaching consequences, how is my -future- physiology being shaped? And it’s isn’t just for me, but all the next generations, each born into a world that becomes more brightly lit and connected by the hour, though in a very elitist sense.
Don’t worry, I’m not going to ramble about the possibilities of a dystopian future, I’ve done that before. I’m working to change it even, though that part will probably come much later in life and will (hopefully) go unknown by me. But, the documentary did have one very interesting line in that I just cannot get out of my head. It was one of the neuroscience researchers who said, “…it changes the way the brain sees the body.”
That has powerful implications, because, in the extremely short version, the brain is a stupid machine with a very direct purpose of absorbing information and translating that information. As a machine, it has a direct “program” that limits its sensory input to just the body it is housed in. Or, in order to be “you,” your brain will limit itself to the physical realm of what is your body… But, as the above unnamed doctor (I don’t remember is why!) described, that much can be changed, too.
I mean, if a set limit exists in any kind of programming, it makes sense that it can be found and altered. The brain has to be malleable otherwise it wouldn’t be able to survive. In order to survive in an -environment- versus a single room, it has to. So, my wild, and proven true in 1,ooo years, thought is this: If I use my imagination to get my brain to believe that I have four arms, that each “other” arm is not just the two that I have, but a separate thing doing its own task(s), will my brain eventually learn to believe that I have four arms?
And if so, will I grow them, or will I just form phantom neural connections? And if I grow the neural connections, but -not- the arms, will I still be able to manipulate stuff around me using those connections? And if there’s any change in my brain at all with this powerful “belief,” will it cause my offspring to potentially be born with (smaller, even vestigially, like a snake’s arms) four arms? Or “nubbins” where they -could- grow?
The first trick is simple. What is life like with four arms? They split at the shoulder, one in the “front,” one in the “back.” I would think it would be too complicated, at first, to do different tasks independently, so my arms would have to work tandemly, or the back-two would just have to hang around, perhaps clasped peacefully. But before all that, what does it feel like to have an extra pair? More than likely, I’d have to have some sort of semi-pivoting shoulder to allow for any range of movement, so on top of extra arms, now I need to fully round my shoulder blade and surround it in heavily-lubricated cartilage.
I’ll have to start taking chondroitin and glucosamine supplements. (One is a derivative of the other =/)
It seems I should look to nature for inspiration on how to use many arms, but I don’t possess a thorax AND abdomen. In order for this to work, my interpretation of this must be as close to my actual “human” body as possible. That rules out octopi, too.
I have to think that it’s the other pair of arms typing the words, not my real pair. If I try for this long enough, which would only require thinking so what’s the harm?, will I become disconnected to my own body? I’ll grow nerves and sensations to limbs I don’t have and my real limbs will lose their feeling but act on their habit, since the neural connections for ambulatory action are as genetically ingrained as they can be.
Ah, it’s a wondrous possibility. I’m particularly curious about the offspring thing. How much would I have to believe for that to work? Are there already four-armed people in the world?
And I know, it sounds crazy, but it isn’t. As the brain works, this is a perfectly legitimate avenue of study and the very notion of it (not just four arms) has great potential. Why, if there were a method for creating “super” beings, this is it. It has to start in the brain’s reality. Surely, when genetic engineering gets the green-light, a lot of this stuff can probably be implanted.
It’s not ethical, though. As much as I hate to see or hear people suffer, to have “perfect” people would only make things worse for us. We -need- weak genes to complement the strong ones. A better mixing might be nice and would lead to its own perfection, but if we’re all perfect and living to 120 or so, then we’d consume, what’s a reasonable guess?, +5o-5oo% more resources?
I think that would kill creativity, since some of the internal/external struggles that a person goes through gives rise to a voice that can’t be gained in any other way. To put it bluntly, it’d be more than a little boring. That whole part isn’t a new idea either and if there’s any hope in humanity, it won’t ever be legal to tamper with genes. We have to be able to be who we are going to be, otherwise, we’re just machines.
But back to the problem at hand, life with four arms! It would be difficult to sleep, but I could do pushups and text at the same time, or carry more groceries. In terms of survival, it’s a win. I’d need more food to keep a larger, more active body alive, but… aheh, really, it might mean that my excessive diet would be warranted, finally. Which means nothing would have to change there.
There would be all kinds of staring, pointing, whispers to overcome. But, I’m trying to be a braver, certainly more courageous, person and that stuff kinda happens anyway… but it’s probably because of my posture – bent with purpose!
If I had access to a lab and doctors with know-how, I’d probably be put into some kind of sensory-restraining virtual-reality training exercise. Most of my visionary field would be blocked, what I would see and feel would be a display of my “body” with four arms and some sort of electrical diodes attached to my shoulders, neck, armpits, and all the other points that are involved in the signaling of arm movement. These diodes would send small electrical signals in concert with the display that I was seeing, forcing my brain to think that the feelings were from using my “new” arms.
Other than the electrical diodes, I can do this in my own mind. It would probably be infinitely faster to have science to back it up, but it raises the ethical question. I’m comfortable experimenting with my own corpse, but I’d hate to think I could drive others mad. #LittleAlbertEthics!
So, there’s that. What does this have to do with my writing? Nothing. I wanted a creative exercise and I had this thought a while ago. It isn’t easy to focus on using an extra pair of non-existent arms, but I feels as though just little “practices” here and there are enough to build on …something.
If anything, I’d have a few more million neuroconnections and maybe the only one for miles with those particular connections. It’s a brave new world. Genetic manipulation by imagination. It. Isn’t. So. Farfetched!
Is this the secret to growing wings, or to become more symbiotic with our friend, Electricity?
Ah, well. My hour is up. If nothing else, the completely mad ramble above is proof that you really can do anything, because the brain is programmed to allow you to. So, try!