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Peter Hinssen is one of Europe’s thought leaders on the impact of technology on our society. He has a focus on the consumer adoption of technology, on the impact of networked digital society, and on the alignment between Business and IT.

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Haha. Just read an article on Wired: « Press Ctrl+Alt+O for Orgasm », and I have to give you (some extracts and) my thoughts!

It made me think about this TED talk I saw @TEDxBrussels last year, Tan Le (co-founder of Emotiv, a neuro-engineering company) presented a breakthrough interface technology for digital media, taking inputs directly from the brain.

We had this live demo (you can watch the video here), the idea is that you wear some kind of helmet full of electrodes, think about an action (in this case, lift something up) and the activity in your brain is recorded so that the next time your brain has a similar activity, the helmet understands the action and is capable to reproduce it.

Applications for this interface span an amazing array of potential industries, eg disabled being able to « act » with their brains.

So, now we know cerebral activity can be recorded and understood by a machine, could we turn the process upside down and imagine that a machine could actually input stuff in your brain to make you think you are actually doing it (being hot, feeling nervous…)

If we take the assumption that in a few years, machines will be able to make you (or actually, your brain) believe you are feeling/doing something. Then it comes to mind quite easily: people want pleasure.

That’s when the Wired article comes in and here are some extracts:

Pearson describes a future (by 2030) where sensors will be sophisticated enough to detect and map the collection of stimuli that create certain sensory experiences – be it someone shaking your hand, hugging you, or having sex with you. The idea is that by stimulating your nervous system in exactly the same way – with the appropriate pressure, warmth and motion — you can recreate the experience. People might use this sort of technology when they are separated from their partners or, more likely, when they don’t have one.

(Which, really, would make this story more about the future of masturbation than sex!)

Further down the line, Pearson believes that you would be able to cut out the need to stimulate the nerve endings and implant a chip into the brain that could recreate the sensations.

« Then it might be as easy as Ctrl-Shift-O for an orgasm, » he explains.

Yeah, right. So after reading this (and although the idea seems… interesting), I had a weird feeling of déja-vu, and after a few minutes of Googling, I found out why:

The pleasure center was discovered in the 1950s by two brain researchers named James Olds and Peter Milner who were investigating whether rats might be made uncomfortable by electrical stimulation of certain areas of their brain, particularly the limbic system. In the experiment, an electrical current was given to rats if they entered a certain corner of a cage, with the hypothesis that they would stay away from that corner if the effect was uncomfortable. Instead, they came back quickly after the first stimulation and even more quickly after the second. In later experiments, they allowed the rats to press the stimulation lever themselves, to the effect that they would press it as much as seven-hundred times per hour. This region soon came to be known as the “pleasure center”.

Rats in Skinner boxes with metal electrodes implanted into their nucleus accumbens will repeatedly press a lever which activates this region, and will do so in preference over food and water, eventually dying from exhaustion. In rodent physiology, scientists reason that the medial forebrain bundle is the pleasure center of rats. If a rat is given the choice between stimulating the forebrain or eating, it will choose stimulation to the point of exhaustion.

(Read the full explanation here)

So get this Ctrl+Alt+O thing on the market, and it’s the best solution to the planet’s overcrowding/lack-of-food problems !!

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