MAD SCIENTISTS have engineered a brain-to-brain interface.
In 2012, Brazilian neuroscientist Miguel Nicolelis gave a mad cackle as the neural activity of one rat was transferred into the brain of another rat, causing it to press a lever. A year later, researchers Rajesh Rao and Andrea Stocco rubbed their hands together fiendishly in an underground laboratory thousands of miles below the University of Washington as the motor impulse of a human was transferred through diabolical brain control devices into a second human. (NOTE: SOME DRAMATIC DETAILS ADDED).
I interviewed neuroscience student “Lori” (her science alias) about the significance of this experiment. What does it MEAN?
LYOET (Last Year of Earthly Things): This is amazing! What do you think about it?
Lori: Right? We might finally know what it’s like to be the bad, sad man behind blue eyes.
I remember reading Nicolelis’ findings (the first rat-to-rat interface). That was amazing and from what I understood, we’re still not quite at the same level with human experiments. With the rats, not only did the electrical signal stimulate the motor cortex and result in the decoder rat pressing on a lever, the information about which of the two levers to press to get the reward was also delivered. That’s mind blowing.
It’s less impressive for this human-to-human experiment because guy 2 is essentially sitting with his right hand on the keyboard and the TMS is set up to stimulate the part of his motor cortex responsible for his right hand. So inevitably when the electrical input is received, he hits the key, but the information itself wasn’t delivered. You know what I mean? I think it says in the article that all he felt was a twitch in his right hand.
So yeah . . . still amazing though and I can’t wait to see what’ll happen when they start experimenting with the reward and affect pathways.
LYOET: What do you think are some of the end possibilities? Remote control of soldiers? Remote control of animals? Having mind-meld sex while experiencing the other person’s emotions?
Lori: I’m tempted tho smirk those ideas off and say we’re nowhere near that . . . but then they go ahead and do these things, it’s absolutely amazing and surprises me every time.
I was thinking more in terms of surgical aid for analgesia and stuff . . . Gender-swap experiments would also be amazing. But they first have to see if they can transfer affect.
LYOET: OK . . . but back to the sex mind-meld. Surely that’s what’s interesting here.
Lori: I don’t know. If you were on the surgery table, I think you’d agree that surgical aid would be more beneficial. That being said, yeah, if they can transmit motive, which they did not do in this human-to-human one (but they did do with the rats), sex could become much more interesting.
But just putting on a helmet wouldn’t allow you to know which buttons to press. You’d have to train and it would be different with every single partner. You’d first have to train to decode the stimulus so that you know that when you get X stimulus, you need to press this button to get the reward and when you get Y stimulus, you need to press the other button.
LYOET: Because . . . like . . . imagine feeling your AND the other person’s feelings at the same time. You’d be having sex with them. And yourself.
Lori: More can be less.
LYOET: You don’t want to have sex with yourself?
Lori: I feel l like it might be too much. I think it could kill you. Ok, maybe not. But it would be very confusing.
And although I’m not completely against the possibility of having sex with myself, this wouldn’t really be the case. It would be the case of me experiencing what someone else having sex with me feels like. It’d different. It’s not MY experience, it’s still the other person’s. For sure it would be interesting, but maybe not in all cases.
LYEOT: So what you’re saying is, you think you would die if you had sex with yourself? Like you would just blow your own mind? Kind of tooting your own horn, aren’t you.
Lori: Hahaha I did say that might be overwhelming, but now that you put it that way, I’m putting it back on the table. You know yourself best. So yeah, having sex with myself would be wonderful. And I could die.
LYOET: I appreciate your honesty. Thank you.
Lori: Do you not agree? This isn’t masturbation we’re talking about. We’re talking about you being able to control someone so well that you get exactly what you want in exactly the right moment. I don’t care how good the other person is, you know yourself best.
LYOET: Oh wait. So YOU’RE talking about being able to control the other person like a giant human dildo. I was just talking about having their experiences of YOU transferred into your brain. What you’re actually afraid of is taking control and fucking yourself to death.
. . . You’re a frightening person.
Lori: Yes. That is what I’m afraid of. I understood what you meant though. As I said, the transfer of affect would really be someone else’s experience of having sex with me. Not my experience. What if I don’t want to know exactly what the person is thinking at the moment that I’m about to reach climax?
LYOET: “I hope she cums soon. I think I have lockjaw.”
“I’m hungry. I wonder if I still have that quiche?
Lori: Haha exactly. What if this person is thinking about the A- they got on an essay and they suddenly feel pissed off? That may interfere with my orgasm.
LYOET: Can you imagine if in the future, when you watched porn, you could feel what the pornstars were experiencing? That would have to be a good thing no?
Lori: Depends what kind of porn you’re watching. If I happened to be watching porn while having sex and feeling what the pornstars were feeling too, no, it would not be a good thing. Because I don’t want to be gangbanged.
Also, you’re delusional. Porn is great because of what YOU think the pornstars are thinking and feeling. If you actually knew what was going on in their heads, I’m pretty sure you’d lose your boner.
LYOET: Maybe it would just change porn. Maybe the stars would become the people who most enjoyed what they did.
Lori: Genuine arousal = satisfied audience. You may be right.
LYOET: So. The future is bright. Wouldn’t you say?
Lori: Human dildos, amplified orgasms/death through orgasm, and genuine pornstars. Yes, it’s looking good.
But for now all we have is a guy with his right hand twitching on a keyboard.
Lori is a neuroscience student at Concordia who plays god in the small frightening world of several lab rats, using their absurd and existentially baffling lives to study schizophrenia for the greater good of superior beings beyond their ken. Maybe, in the end, we’re all lab rats, the experiments of some god like Lori. The playthings of an incomprehensible intelligence we will never understand.