Instant Genius


First, a video:


This technique appers to be related to the research described here:

What it's like to wear a brain-stimulating "thinking cap" 
Science writer Sally Adee provides some background on her New Scientist article describing her experience with a DARPA program that uses targeted electrical stimulation of the brain during training exercises to induce "flow states" and enhance learning. The "thinking cap" is something like the tasp of science fiction, and the experimental evidence for it as a learning enhancement tool is pretty good thus far -- and the experimental subjects report that the experience feels wonderful (Adee: "the thing I wanted most acutely for the weeks following my experience was to go back and strap on those electrodes.")

It sounds like the magnets and the electrodes are two different techniques for getting at the same result: shutting down one part of the brain so that the performance in another area is amplified. I would love to try this -- and given the choice would definitely go with the magnets. Zapping my brain with electricity  doesn't sound all that appealling, but I would be willing to give it a go in order to experience life as a savant, even if only for a few minutes.

I'm guessing that down the road these early attempts at intelligence amplification will strike people as being shockingly crude and intrusive. The end game is a permanent boost in intelligence, one significantly greater than what the subject in the video experienced. We'll want to achieve this without pumping electricity or magnetic waves into our skulls.

The movie Limitless provides a pretty good sketch of profoundly enhanced intelligence (and it wasn't nearly as down on the idea of human augmentation as I feared it might be.) But I don't want to have to take pills and I certainly don't want to face the side effects depicted in that movie.

I'm not sure how we get to that level of intelligence enhancement technology -- but maybe the electrodes and magnets will help us along the way.

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