Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Correlation among Matrix, Total Recall, and...Doreamon!

I take my son to a music ‘exploring’ class every weekend. That class is supposed to use kid’s songs, group games that involve music to stimulate children’s interests in music. Though I’m a music lover, but I’ve zero talent or knowledge about traditional music, neither playing any instruments nor figuring out one note from the others that sort of thing. However, for being in my son’s class, I’ve an opportunity to participate as well as observing how a person picks up a new knowledge. Basically, my son and I are starting from zero, and I suppose to have the advantage of being an adult with superior knowledge in language to understand what the instructor said. However, when the instructor ‘customized’ her communication to a level which kid can understand, then my advantage was leveled. Both of us were even to figure out what notes had been played by the instructor. Was it a ‘do’ or ‘sol’? I was kinda beaten by my son last weekend in that game, perhaps that was due to the more sensitive hearing ability of a young boy versus his old man. I was a bit shocked by that, but hey that’s not a bad sign that my son is better than me!

Music is a just one of the categories of knowledge. I love the concept of knowledge itself which was defined in wiki as: (i) expertise, and skills acquired by a person through experience or education; the theoretical or practical understanding of a subject; (ii) what is known in a particular field or in total; facts and information; or (iii) awareness or familiarity gained by experience of a fact or situation. From my point of view, it is virtually an essence of proven views and concepts that got meshed together to become a valuable piece of information that would be useful in specific occasions. We have spent countless days and nights of our youthful years to acquire knowledge that was recorded from our ancestors. It is by no mean an easy task. When I was a kid, while facing the daunting task of memorizing all the materials before exams, I always wished there would be magic that could help me doing that (cheating in exam wasn’t my thing). I recall an episode of a Japanese animation series of Doraemon, an imagined gadget that was shown in the cartoon was called ‘learning bread’. The main character can learn word by word of a page of a book by eating that bread after it was put on top of that page. Certainly, that was just a cartoon, but I can imagine that if learning something or memorizing information can be as easy as eating. That would just be as fun as magic. Come to think of it, I also recall the movie: Matrix, in which characters can learn kungfu or flying a helicopter simply by uploading information or training manual into their brains. How cool was that? I would really wonder if that can that be done for real some days!...

However, thinking along the idea that knowledge or information can be uploaded to our brain, it would definitely be a double-edged sword! Cuz, knowledge or information themselves are neutral, different person can react to same piece of information differently. Also, knowledge or information can come in different forms (text, audio, and video). So, I can imagine that they all can be uploaded into our brains as well. I think that would actually do more harm than good to our human beings as a whole.

I can foresee that the world as we know it will be turned upside down. Yes, there would be some pros here and there, like our technology would have exponential growth. Cuz, there won’t be need for schooling. As long as we have access to those ‘knowledge shots’ to our brains, we will have all the knowledge of our predecessors. We just need to build on top of them and move forward. The time of new discovery would be much shortened. Also, as I mentioned before, knowledge can also be in different forms, including video. If we planted the moving images into our brain, for example, a movie. Then, memory can be created! Putting it this way, we would think we have seen the movie, even though we have never seen it! Imagine a lengthy movie is implanted, like the images of a person’s life in a month. Then, the recipient of that movie might think that it is part of his/her actual past experience. It is somewhat like in the movie “Total Recall’. You can travel all over the world without leaving your house! But hold on…. just think the cons of that would simply send chill down my spine!

Cuz, the boundary between reality and virtual world will fade. One could lose his sense of reality and ability to distinguish facts from fiction. Monster can be created. Just put the knowledge of criminals into a person, he/she could become a super-criminal. Since such knowledge upload technology is so valuable, I’m sure only the super rich and powerful would have access and control of it. Most of poor and regular folks can still go to schools or read books in the old fashion way. But the exclusive class can become genius of their own. Since knowledge is power and knowledge is wealth, the ruling class could retain their power and wealth almost forever! That’s scary!

If the idea of ‘Knowledge shot’ becomes real, 3 items would be the most valuable and crucial after all. The first one is the control of the technology that converting knowledge into ‘shots’. The second is the ownership of the collection of those ‘shots’ which would become a new form of luxury item that can be traded, stolen, and appreciate/depreciate in values, just put those shots next to what we regard plutonium these days. The third is the technology of uploading those ‘shots’ into human brains. Any power that owns all three, it owns human destiny.

I can imagine that genius can certainly be created. Leonardo Da Vinci is frequently regarded as one of the most intelligent man known in human history. He excelled in BOTH science and arts which is extremely rare. But, knowledge shots can create whatever form of genius you can imagine, as long as a human brain can take that knowledge. We were told that we only use 5% of our brain, just imagine how many ‘shots’ we can take! One would argue that knowledge is just data, not intelligence can only be obtained by going through trial and errors, accumulation of experiences, and all that. However, I would imagine that with so much knowledge correctly retained in one’s brain, he/she can start at a higher ground to experience whatever he/she wants and avoiding foreseeable mistakes based on those ‘data’. Those ‘knowledge shots’ can create people with multi-intelligence, aka genius.

On the other hand, my concern would go back to the mother of all concerns in scientific development that ‘just because we can, doesn’t mean that we should!’ Namely, the morality about such technology, just like human cloning. My point is that genius can be ‘evil’! As I mentioned before, super criminal can be created. Also, the misuse of the technology is endless, besides the abusing of power concentration and continuity of a small group of elites, the blurring of reality and virtual world, there are other bad things can happen as well. For example, implanting of knowledge/memory can interfere justice, an innocent person would think he/she had committed crime, and the actual criminal can get away with it. People would falsely think who they are, I mean they can really be ‘brain-washed’. That’s 1984 comes for real! I don’t think any sane people would wanna live in such world.

If that happens, human morality would most likely lag behind such technology. I’m not saying human nature is all evil, but we all understand that human nature has its dark side. I do believe that I am a bold person to welcome technology advancement, but as I grow older and know more things about our world, I perhaps have become more pessimistic about any technological ‘super’ advancements rather than the incremental change of existing one. Cuz, the downside is simply too great and I’m not confident that such technology can be handled properly. Once the genius is out of the bottle, all hell breaks loose!

Well, what I just blog here is purely based on my imagination. I’m not indeed worry that would happen as there is no sign of such on the horizon, so did many other well-known technology in our past! Anyway, looking at my son, I would wonder if he would think his old man is crazy to blog about such freaking weird idea.

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