Leading experts in the field of artificial intelligence estimate that by 2040, a technological singularity will cause an unpredictable “intelligence explosion”, after which the capabilities of machines will supersede that of humans (Armstrong ; Carvalko ; Eden ). On the other end of the spectrum, leading neuroscientists contend that no machine will ever be able to compete with the non-linear, non-Turing prowess of the human brain (Nicolelis ). Through biological barriers to computation, we can harness the power of our brains to isolate ourselves from unforeseen advances in machine-based artificial intelligence. Consequently, new methods of information transfer between humans may ignite an unpredictable intelligence explosion which rivals (or exceeds) that of machines.
For centuries, individuals have proclaimed their own existence with the phrase cogito ergo sum (“I think, therefore I am.”) (Descartes, 1685). Communicating thoughts between each other could, for the first time, prove the existence of individuals outside ourselves. Furthermore, an accused (or racially-persecuted) person could prove their innocence by sharing recorded neural patterns during the time of the arrest, a sports fan could experience the adrenaline and mechanical motions of their favorite athlete, a layperson could taste a restaurant’s best meal from across the globe. A blind child could receive visual input from its mother, mental states (hunger, happiness, excitement) could be quantified and tracked, infrared-light detectors could expand our senses (Thomson et al. ). Permanent external storage of thoughts and memories could greatly enhance information recall, and information could be translated and analyzed in ways not yet imagined. A brain-to-brain network would not be limited to humans. The neural intelligence and sensory input of other animals could also be harnessed (Pais-Vieira ; Trimper et al. ).
A secure mechanism to tie a human lifeform to a digital identity can push our governments onto the internet, enabling world passports, transparent elections, and a true, global democracy. In such an identity network, contracts and digital payments can be initiated by thought, files and assets can be forwarded elsewhere upon death, sensitive information can be shared only after a specific neural impulse. Note that DNA offers a mechanism for a biological identity, but not a digital one. DNA can be shed, and thereafter, copied. A better form of identity would be one that is unhackable, digital-friendly, and disposable. Such a form of identity could become the basis for bio-digital signatures, filling in the gap between the virtual and natural.
A proof-of-cognition blockchain as an underlying identity-network for a brain-to-brain internet would provide sufficient autonomy for each of its users. If cryptographic keys were generated and stored on an offline, physically-inaccessible, neurally-trained implant, hacking a person’s identity would be impossible. Decentralization of the network would guarantee that all users had equal power, and that a single ill-acting party could not cause sweeping changes across the network. In the event an ill-acting party did enter the network, the public nature of a blockchain would alert its users, ensuring honest nodes could exit or reject the dishonest node before harm were spread. So long as the majority of nodes remained honest, a proof-of-cognition blockchain can maintain the safety of an individual’s conscious in a brain-to-brain network.
This paper proposes a pseudo-anonymous digital-biological network as a foundation for later brain-to-brain innovations. A rudimentary understanding of hashing, blockchains (Dai ; Back ; Nakamoto ) and modern brain-machine interfaces (Lebedev and Nicolelis ; Lebedev ; Hildt ) is recommended.
Reference: proof-of-cognition-implants , published May 2015. Disclaimer: Project Oblio’s mechanism does not rely on brain implants, but the mechanisms of action are the same. An early version of the paper provably exists in bitcoin address 13eeMVU5fXNfZdoBk5z4fEAbgSH9MawQ6H.