Being able to “plug in” to technology has long been one of the most fascinating concepts explored in science fiction. That humans could someday meld with technology on such an intimate level is intriguing to say the least. Aside from the entertainment possibilities explored in Caprica, the reality-bending questions proposed in The Matrix, how about the practical applications that could revolutionize everyday real life? How about controlling aircraft with your mind?
Project “Brainflight” aims to do just that. Although the technology is only in its infancy, what would it be like if planes were piloted with a pilot’s mind, rather than their hands? Well if you think about it, they’re technically using their minds to fly already. It is their minds that tell their hands what to do. With data gathered and processed through visual information and experience, it’s really just the pilot’s brain that is doing the flying anyway by sending signals to the rest of the pilot’s body.
But will people accept a future where hands-off flying is the norm? Probably. At least after a while. At some point human-technology interfaces will become more personal than just sitting in a piece of equipment. Eventually we will probably see this sort of mind-controlled technology all over the place. From construction vehicles to commercial vehicles, even war will no doubt be changed by humans “plugging in” to their machines. At some point it will just be more efficient to plug a soldier into a drone interface module than have them manually control the thing. Well, that is until they roll out Skynet…
What happens when technology like Skylens, and augmented reality headset for pilots, gets integrated into mind-controlled machines? It’s easy to imagine a future where pilots visualize their surroundings through augmented reality data gathering, and control aircraft with their minds, “Look Ma, no hands” style! With such “removed” interaction, in the sense that the pilot’s body would technically be doing nothing at all, wouldn’t that be the same as a completely augmented reality? No physical senses used, only interaction directly with the brain. At that point, wouldn’t they be “plugged in”?
Could this technology filter down into everyone’s lives? Will people be controlling their cars with their minds in a few years? I really don’t think mind-controlled machines will ever be part of the general population. I think something like Brainflight will absolutely become the standard in areas like commercial airlines, other forms of public transportation, and certainly in the military. It just seems like even with a highly advanced form of this technology there will still need to be a huge amount of training and experience to efficiently and safely operate. For us on the streets, it’s robot cars and buses.