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Direct Brain to Brain Communication Between Animals and Humans

The primary purpose and function of the Brain Computer Interface technology in development today, to be the standard input, interaction or interface means for all computing and communication devices in less than two decades from now, is to enable the user to use thought, the signal of which is detected and interpreted, to instruct a computer, any other machine or software, to perform its respective function as the user requires or desires. Past to present trends pertaining to technology is that over time they improve and evolve, along with their purposes and functions. We cannot expect the Brain Computer Interface to be an exception.

While the primary purpose of a Brain Computer Interface is to control machines or programmes, the fact that it works by detecting and interpreting, then translating, thought signals, leaves room for more. Not only can the Brain Computer Interface allow the user to communicate instructions, but also to receive communication directly to the brain, most likely in the short term, in the form of sound bypassing the ear drum. The fact that two way communication is essential, where there must be input and output, and the Brain Computer Interface would enable this. We’ll be communicating human-to-human, whether across a room, or the globe, through thought using this new interface technology.
For example, my thoughts are input into a device, and then relayed to brain of the intended recipient. After which, I would receive a response by the same means. Without microphones or ear-plugs, we communicate bypassing voice boxes and ear drums, where we may not even speak the same language. A thought, is translated into the language of preference of the recipient.When language, voice and ear drums are no obstacle, nor too technical competency or literacy, in communication, barriers to communication, will indeed virtually disappear.
Thus far, the Brain Computer Interface, as I have discussed it is all about communication involving the human brain connected with technology. Humans are not the only organisms with brains however. Apart from Micro-organisms, certain groups of marine animals and other rare creatures we do not often consider, most animals we encounter or that we might see at a zoo have a brain or system that allows for thoughts and cognition. Brain signals exist in animals, though perhaps operating in different ways or at different frequencies than humans. However it is a matter of time, before the same type of thought reading apparatus used for human-to-human interaction can, and will, be adjusted to identify, decipher and read animal thoughts.
Now imagine this, we’re on our way to transcending the language barrier, with the Brain Computer Interface, for human to human communication, where direct and immediate interpretation or translation will be possible with the appropriate software. Imagine, if you can start understanding, what your dog, your cat or your hamster is thinking? And then now think, if we figure a way, to relay our thoughts or intended messages, to your pets or other animals, in a way, they can understand? Going to the zoo will become a very different experience from what it is today.Imagine if you could have a conversation with a lion. For example, you think the question, “How are you feeling today?”, which gets converted into data, and then signal, which is transmitted to the brain of the lion, in a form, which the lion is able to interpret and understand, in response to which, the lion thinks, a thought that is captured by a brain interface device picking up it’s brainwaves, converting it, translating into a human language you understand, converting it to voice sound, relayed back to you, which you hear in your head, whereby the lion’s response may sound to you perhaps like, “The same as I do every day when humans like you come by across that barrier. Hungry.”

Lion_-_melbourne_zoo

This is a admittedly, not a possibility within reach any time soon.  Extensive work will have to be done to identify and decipher brainwaves of any animal, to create a system that fulfils the same function within it’s brain, as the system currently being evolved for humans is intended to fulfil. A timeline here is therefore not possible to really estimate. That the technological progress to enable humans to read animal minds and to communicate back to them will happen, is a definite possibility, because of both scientific feasibility given what is already known and the human interest to understand other living beings that share our planet. And because it is a probable eventuality, it is valuable to forecast a scenario, where the technology becomes an actual reality.Imagine what could happen if we could use such technology to converse with animals, as we converse with each other in the present day. What would the subjects be? Perhaps spirituality, where we ask animals if they understand the concept of life and death, and if so, what it means to them? Do different animals believe in an afterlife? Do they believe in a heaven or a hell? Do they believe in karma or a greater entity? Do they worship in their own way?

Imagine if we could ask different species of animals, how they feel about different things? For example, if we could ask a chicken about it’s sentiments that humans take its eggs or its life, for food consumption? Only time would tell, when such communication is possible, if it’s response, if any, or whatever it is, would suffice to convert the entire human population to vegetarianism. What would different animals say to us, if we asked how they felt about humans in general? Would they say they think we are cute and adorable? Or would they say we frighten them? Or would they say, we look tasty?

Perhaps with a means to communicate across species barriers, with brainwave computing, we will able to negotiate with different animals. For example, we engage sharks to reach an understanding, where we would not hunt sharks for human consumption and sharks would not attack swimmers and beach-goers, more so, if a man goes overboard a ship’s deck, sharks would come to his aid. Perhaps we could discuss means of co-existing and cohabiting better, so as not to impede or violate each other’s spaces. Perhaps we could work out means, with their inputs, on the best way to protect, preserve and rebuild our environment. On the contrary perhaps, we may just perhaps confirm that some species are intrinsically hostile towards us and that is something we may not be able to change.

Whatever the outcome, I foresee, that when, not if for it is an eventuality I reiterate, the Brain Computer Interface technology enables us to read animal thoughts, one thing will be certain; humanity is likely to understand our animal neighbours better. Through that enhanced understanding, I foresee, greater respect by us at least, for them.

The NoMoreWoof is a simple device that is an early prototype of the concept of a animal to human BCI developed by the Nordic Society for Invention and Discovery, a self described “Scandinavian Skunk Lab”. The device operates through the use of one or more EEG sensors placed in a headset designed to be worn by a dog.

Screen Shot 2014-07-28 at 8.10.40 AM

Instead of a brain to brain connection however, the device simply produces audio from an included speaker.

Unfortunately the NoMoreWoof is a very early experimental design and can only classify a few thought patterns, i.e. the one sensor device is able to distinguish 2-3 thought patterns, listed as “Tiredness, Hunger and Curiosity” although a planned two sensor version may be able to distinguish 4 or more thought patterns.

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I have written this commentary at some risk. I am anticipating significant criticism, professional and otherwise. I am anticipating even ridicule. The subject certainly appears less than viable commercially at this present point in time. It sounds more like a fantasy, science fiction or imagination than not, even though it is indeed much more than this. It does not sound at this present point in time, like a credible subject of business discussion or commercial thought. Despite that I have gone ahead with this article, in hope to enable this vision, to start the ball rolling for human-to-animal communication development and forecasting of future possibilities. I seek to drive interest towards accelerating any such developmental efforts. In short I wanted to be share a Futurist vision on the topic.

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Harish Shah is Singapore’s pioneering local born commercial Futurist. He owns Stratserv Consultancy, a Futurist Management Consulting practice with a central focus on Strategic Foresight. He is widely referred to in Futurist or Foresight circles as The Singapore Futurist.Harish graduated in 2007 from The University of Western Australia, in Perth, with a Bachelor of Commerce Degree, with a distinction average in each of his three Majors; Human Resource Management, Management and Industrial Relations,Harish’s work experience spans across being an HR Consultant to some of the world’s leading corporations operating regionally out of Singapore, Business Set-up & Incorporation Services, Journalism, Order Management, Exhibition Sales, coaching challenged personalities, managing large scale training and selling industrial services. He is a seasoned public speaker, presenter and strategic negotiator.Please kindly link to my business website: www.stratservconsultancy.com