Op-Ed: The Internet of Thought aka a new global imbecility

Posted Jul 18, 2019 by Paul Wallis
The Internet of Thought is an ambitious idea to link minds to the Cloud, using nanotechnology. You and your synapses will be able to wander lonely as a cloud through the cloudy clods.
Don Hankins (CC BY 2.0)
This idea builds nobly on the other form of mindless optimism known somewhat derisively (and unimaginatively) as the Internet of Things. Can’t even be bothered coming up with a different acronym, eh? This is the old internet idea of Connection, taken to a whole new level.
The working principle is called a “brain/cloud interface” and involves nanobots in the brain, presuming you can be bothered having a brain in future. You can also interface with Artificial Intelligence using the technology, and everything!
This idea of interaction is supposed to be used for enhanced communication, education, and even work. You and your other B movie colleagues will be able to sail the seas of A.I. reality, learn, work, and communicate.
…Which also just happens to be the idea of the internet. You remember, that wonderful place full of nice sane people and their invaluable information. The idea of an Internet of Thought is just bigger, bolder, and just happens to very obviously have a whole lot of high dollar value tech and patents built in. Somebody did point out that the Internet of Thought might actually be useful on a personal level, but that sort of information is drowning in techno-mysticism.
The basic tech for the Internet of Thought is the usual brain connections using electromagnetic stimuli, etc. Not new, but likely to be nicely packaged. The nanotech is new, but the rest of it is basic hardwiring. On the positive side, you can have nanobots in brain cells.
The other big thing is “global bandwidth transmission”. Does this mean you can be broadcast at, using the nanobots in your brain? It probably does. Whether or not this wonderful option comes with an off switch isn’t mentioned in the general hype.
Some questions
One of the great things about these very big, very clumsy ideas is that few people can predict what it will do. Imagine the opportunities for humanity, 25% of which has various mental disorders, getting plugged in to a virtually unquantifiable, and dubiously administrate-able, system.
A few questions:
• The theory is that the Internet of Thought can be “mediated” by neural nanorobotics. How? To what purpose? What if mediation can’t be achieved?
• What can you do with a brain/cloud interface that you can’t do with basic tech?
• How do you guarantee you’re not plugging yourself in to yet another stress factory?
• What are the risks? There are always risks with any technology.
• Can the Internet of Thought be hacked? Probably. If it’s software in any form, it can. Is this a way of ensuring in yet another way that people’s thoughts can be hacked and/or manipulated?
• What are the definite, not rhetorical, benefits? What actual use is this going to be?
• What precise role does a human have, interfacing with A.I.?
• What safeguards are being considered, if any? How do you undo any damage caused by the interface, including the interesting legal damage options?
• What if there’s a power surge or a few billion eV planted in people’s brains through power systems? (No real need for massive power. The human brain works on microvolts, but too much power could be trouble.)
• What if you get a sort of Internet of Things/Thought/whatever ransomware, or other malware? Who do you call, a doctor or an IT person or both?
• Do we get a chance to have some of that peachy keen online advertising and other useless crap in this internet, too? Imagine dreaming of discount hotel bargains.
Inevitable mega screw-ups be a-comin’
There is no such thing as a pristine working technology. The Internet of Thought will have to work through the inevitable bugs and screw-ups to work at all. That’s from nano level to macro system level. Very encouraging, not.
Add to this ungodly mess the altruistic genius of our corporate paragons of virtue who have given us this dazzling, insane sewer of a world. Who’s prepared to trust them with actual brain interfaces?
I can see the Internet of Thought being an unparalleled disaster for the entire human race. Obviously, no thought at all has gone in to the sheer scope of things that can go wrong on every level.
Suggestion – For a nice change, how about you obsessive lunatics get a grip and figure how to make this idea even theoretically safe? The usual immaculate standard of barely functional garbage won’t work on this one.