The time between what is science fiction becoming science fact is shortening as the technology to produce it advances at an exponential rate. Soon things that were ideas wildly imagined will become common place items.
When I began to write the Col Sec series, almost eight years ago I wondered how technology would cope with communications in the 25th century. Surely mobile phones would be a thing of the past so I came up with the idea of the Neural Interface, a chip embedded into the brain that could wirelessly communicate with comm networks and computers. I came across an article, whilst I was doing some research on another project of a neural interface being developed by DARPA for the US military. It states that the smaller than 1 cubic centimeter bio compatible device would be able to act as translator between the electrochemical language used by neurons in the brain and the ones and zeros that constitute the language of information technology. This article is from January this year so is quite current, here’s the link to the entire thing.
Enhancements used by the military are not a new thing, George Washington had his troops vaccinated against smallpox in the war of Independance as the British were suspected of using the virus as a biological weapon. It is not far from using vaccines to using other chemical methods to enhance troops for battle. Not just vaccines either, exo skeleton suits are in development to enhance a soldiers strength. I wonder if Stan Lee and Jack Kirby ever thought back in the early sixties when they developed Iron Man that his suit would ever be made this soon. Now writers such as myself are coming up with ideas that probably have been on someone’s drawing board or in a computer somewhere for years already, we just don’t know it yet.
There are ethical issues in play as well, are we making people more human or less with all these enhancements? I am no theologian but in my opinion no matter what enhancements are made, as long as they don’t tamper with the basic cognitive functions that govern the knowledge of the difference between right and wrong, then it is an enhancement of the human experience. If an implant enables someone with a disability to live a more normal life, or more simply put, enables them to live their life on their own terms, then that can only be regarded, in my opinion, as an enhancement.
We are about to see the Neural Interface or the NI as it’s known in the Col Sec series, how long before we see all the other cool stuff. I’m betting not as long as we think.