Link to my Globorg page

World Wide Mind Control

By Sue Halpern
The New York Review of Books, June 23, 2011

Edited by Andy Ross

World Wide Mind: The Coming Integration of Humanity, Machines, and the Internet
By Michael Chorost

The Filter Bubble: What the Internet Is Hiding from You
By Eli Pariser

You Are Not a Gadget: A Manifesto
By Jaron Lanier

Michael Chorost had a brain–computer interface implanted in his head after he went deaf in 2001. He is now a cheerleader for the rest of us getting kitted out with our own in-brain computers. In Chorost's ideal world, we will all be connected directly to the Internet via a neural implant, so that the Internet "would become seamlessly part of us, as natural and simple to use as our own hands."

Eli Pariser: "Most of us assume that when we google a term, we all see the same results — the ones that the company’s famous Page Rank algorithm suggests are the most authoritative based on other page's links." But with personalized search, "now you get the result that Google's algorithm suggests is best for you in particular — and someone else may see something entirely different. In other words, there is no standard Google anymore."

A study in the spring issue of Sociological Quarterly examined attitudes toward global warming between 2001 and 2010 and found that the percentage of Republicans who said that the planet was beginning to warm dropped from 49 to 29 percent, while for Democrats, the percentage went up, from 60 to 70 percent. It was as if the groups were getting different messages about the science, and most likely they were. By having our own ideas bounce back at us, we inadvertently indoctrinate ourselves with our own ideas.

Jaron Lanier: "The rise of the web was a rare instance when we learned new, positive information about human potential. Who would have guessed (at least at first) that millions of people would put so much effort into a project without the presence of advertising, commercial motive, threat of punishment, charismatic figures, identity politics, exploitation of the fear of death, or any of the other classic motivators of mankind. In vast numbers, people did something cooperatively, solely because it was a good idea, and it was beautiful."

Larry Page and Sergey Brin, the duo who started Google, paired small ads with their search engine as a way to fund it. It was not their intent, at first, to create the largest global advertising platform in the history of the world, or to move marketing strategy away from pushing products toward consumers to pulling individual consumers toward specific products and brands. But to pull you into a transaction, companies believe they need to know not only your current interests, but what you have liked before, how old you are, your gender, where you live, how much education you have, and on and on.

We have come to accept that commerce is a really cool aspect of the Web's shift into social networking. Lanier: "The only hope for social networking sites from a business point of view is for a magic formula to appear in which some method of violating privacy and dignity becomes acceptable."

The personalization and the self-expression promoted by the Internet diminishes the value of personhood and individuality.

Engineers have changed the way we do research and medicine and read books and communicate with each other and pay the bills and on and on. In 2004, Larry Page envisioned a future where your brain is augmented by Google, so that when you think of something, your cell phone whispers the answer into your ear.

Stuart Wolf, in an interview with Fortune, imagined that we shall soon be wearing a headband that feeds directly into the brain and lets us talk without speaking, see around corners, and drive by thinking.

DARPA is pouring millions of dollars into the development of a battlefield thought helmet that will let soldiers in the field communicate wordlessly by translating brain waves into audible radio messages.

Computer scientists at the Free University in Berlin used EEG sensors to read the brain wave patterns for driving commands and then sent the data to a computer-controlled car. A driver was able to control the car with thoughts.

AR  This article did not cite my Globorg book. Forgive me, Sue, but it should have done.