If you have a few hundred bucks, you too can buy a gen-u-ine mind-reading device (Mindreading Headsets Will Change Your Brain). Such things raise a few philosophical questions, certainly, but the one exercising me at the moment is slightly left field: what sort of creatures are we, we who invent something so remarkable and…use it to Twitter and play Pong? Examples might be multiplied. We create a vast global communications network which puts countless lifetimes of learning a mere series of keystrokes away and, well, the sorts of things we search for are perhaps less than edifying. (At the moment, it looks like ‘Hot Celebrity Gossip’ dominates the searches. We are preoccupied with a injured baseball player, a talk show host and the recent activities of a woman who has posed for Playboy. See Google Trends if you must.)
I wonder if the childishness, the playfulness, the fundamentally goofy nature of humanity is somehow required for the achievements we’ve managed. Could we have the magic headset without the baseball players? Would we have the internet without pornography and talk shows? We are ridiculous and generally base, and the planet should almost certainly start over with insects, but before we sweep what’s most embarrassing about us under the carpet it might be worth wondering if it all goes along with, somehow enables, those parts of human nature which make us most proud.