7PM Thursday, May 6, 2010
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Britain's foremost neuroscientist, Baroness Susan
Greenfield is the first woman director of the 204-year-old Royal
Institution of Great Britain. At the beginning of the 21st Century,
we may be standing on the brink of a mind-makeover more cataclysmic
than anything in our history. The science and technology that is
already becoming central to our lives, will soon come to transform
not just the way we spend each day, but the way we think and feel.
Gradually we are learning more about the dynamism and sensitivity of the circuits in our brain, and how they reflect our moment-to-moment existence and experience: it is in the configuration of these brain cell connections, that the essence of our individuality actually lies. The prospect of directly tampering with this basis of our uniqueness becomes increasingly likely.
Our changing lifestyle may mean that our grandchildren
will have a different view of ‘reality’ than to us. Imagine living
in an interactive and highly personalized environment,
from physical interiors to furniture, to food.
Invisible and ubiquitous computers embedded
in clothing, virtual reality and augmented reality, may erode our sense
of a solid and consistent outside world. Clearly there will be implications
for the family unit. Home will now be seen as an extension of the individual’s
own mind and body, with constant access to a collective network of
data on the minutiae of everyone else’s daily life. We shall
see a swing therefore to a reactive rather
than a proactive lifestyle, a blurring of the
cyber- and atomic-worlds and, indeed, a blurring
of the distinction between carbon- and silicon-based systems....
Dr. Susan Greenfield