Would You Implant Your Phone in Your Brain?

Future technology could make it possible.

By Mackenzie Carro
From the May 2020 Issue

Learning Objective: to identify and evaluate key points on both sides of a debate; to write an argument essay

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It’s the year 2090, and you just woke up. You tap your left temple to stop the alarm buzzing in your head. You roll out of bed and think, What’s the weather? Instantly, the forecast appears in front of your eyes.

Then a notification pops up in the corner of your vision. You blink to open it. It’s a text from your mom: “Breakfast is ready.” “K,” you text back, using only your thoughts.

At breakfast, you wonder what your bestie is up to; suddenly, her social media feed floats before you. You blink twice to like a video of her robot dog, Gigabyte.

How are you doing all this?

Like everyone in the future, you’ve had your smartphone, in the form of a tiny computer chip, implanted in your brain.

Transforming Our Lives

Today, the idea of putting a phone in a human brain exists only in the realm of science fiction. But one day, experts say this technology could be a reality. In fact, several companies have already developed a way to send text messages using only thoughts.

This future technology would undoubtedly transform the way we live. For one thing, imagine how convenient life would be. We wouldn’t have to worry about cracked screens or accidentally leaving our phones at home. As implants, our phones would always be with us, safely tucked away in our heads.

What’s more, we’d be able to multitask even more easily than we can now. Think of all the things you can do when you pick up your phone: talk to dozens of friends at once, go shopping, make videos. With your phone in your brain, it would be possible to do all those things at any moment without even looking at a screen. All you would have to do is use your thoughts.

But as incredible as this may sound, there could be a dark side.

Studies show that excessive time on our devices can make us feel anxious, lonely, and fatigued. Yet it’s hard to put our devices down. They constantly buzz and ring—begging for our attention. If phones were in our brains, it could be nearly impossible to turn them off.

“One day, experts say this technology could be a reality.”

Brain Hackers

Then there is the issue of privacy. If you had a chip in your brain, would advertisers be able to access it? Would they use your thoughts, memories, and dreams to try to sell you things? Would you get ads for soccer balls after dreaming about scoring a winning goal? This would be a terrible invasion of privacy.

Some experts even warn of “brainjacking,” a sinister scenario in which a criminal hacks into your implant and gets control of it. What if these hackers deleted memories? Or inserted fake ones? Controlled your movement? This might sound far-fetched, but there is much we don’t know about the human brain and what this technology could lead to.

Infinite Knowledge

Another big question is how implants would impact the way we learn. Think about it: Implants could make it possible to program our brains with knowledge and skills. What if, for example, instead of spending years learning a new language, we could simply download it directly into our brain implants?

“Achieving this would be inserting knowledge directly into our brains,” says Matt Johnson, a professor at Hult International Business School. “You’d have infinite knowledge.”

But is “infinite knowledge” a good thing? Part of the human experience is putting in the time and effort it takes to learn, which builds discipline and character. Think about how satisfying it is to solve an algebra equation or figure out a tricky science concept. With infinite knowledge, would such “ah-ha! moments” still happen? Would our curiosity vanish?

Would we turn into little more than walking, talking computers?

Then again, maybe this future technology wouldn’t be much of a change. We already use our phones to store our memories in the form of photos, to gain knowledge by way of Google searches, to communicate via texts.

So what do you think?

Would you implant your phone in your brain?

This article was originally published in the May 2020 issue.

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