Was Life-Changing Technology Incited by Wiseman’s Total Recall? (2012)
However, science has taken this a step further: Apple executive and Siri co-founder, Tom Gruber, claims that memory implants are “inevitable” via the use of artificial intelligence. He believes that computers could eventually reinforce existing human capacity for memory. Elon Musk has also seconded this idea through his ‘telepathy startup’, Neuralink., which focuses on developing neural lace technology. This would mean that thoughts from neurons would be transferrable to computers or mobile devices through the use of tiny brain electrodes – wherever you are. Facebook has also hinted at similar technology that aims to assist people with disabilities, allowing them to type with their brain and hear with their skin.
Memory implants are inevitable via the use of artificial intelligence
Arguably, our memories are essential to our sense of identity. Through the narrative of personal experiences, we learn from our interactions with the world, and our memories help guide our behaviours. In 2019, Scientific American reported that an artificial memory was successfully created in laboratory animals by reverse-engineering a specific natural memory. This was made possible via mapping the brain circuits underlying its formation and then ‘training’ another animal by stimulating the brain cells in the same pattern of the natural memory. By doing this, an artificial memory was created, retained and recalled in an indistinguishable manner from the original, natural memory.
Whilst Wiseman depicts a multi-level, futuristic envisionment for tomorrow’s cities, in practicality, there’s no one-size-fits-all. Components of smart cities have been around for decades, but the conceptual tag began in the late 1990s. Whilst still in flux, the generalised term for a smart city refers to the use of digital and ICT-based innovation to improve the efficiency of urban services and generate new economic opportunities, which proves imperative as 54% of people worldwide reside in cities – with a predicted rise to 66% by 2050.
There’s no singular portrayal of a smart city as the intrinsic drivers differ depending on the city’s geo, socio and economic requirements. There are, however, five essential technologies needed to achieve connected cities that provide better services, communication and are potential areas for investment and innovation for entrepreneurs:
- Smart energy – for both residential and commercial buildings. The purpose is to spend and use less energy and money with a significant focus on sustainable transmission of energy.
- Smart transportation & mobility – supporting multi-modal transportation, building smart traffic lights and parking via sensors, intelligence systems and vehicle-sharing alternatives.
- Smart data – massive amounts of data collected must be analysed quickly to be useful, and by making it publicly accessible, third parties can develop technology that betters human living and well-being.
- Smart infrastructure – clean, real-time data analytics allows for proactive maintenance and better planning for future demand – also aiding in the prevention of public health issues and making meaningful changes.
Smart cities of today
Oslo frequently features in global smart city lists. With a particular focus on addressing climate change, the Norwegian capital has embraced the wide use of sensors to control energy consumption of lighting, heating and cooling, as well as developing electric vehicles, a smart grid, and EV-charging technology. There are already 2000 charging stations for electric vehicles, and owners are exempt from sales tax and are entitled to free parting, charging and transport on ferries.
In New York, the Government has focussed on providing universal broadband and digital services, promoting inclusive innovation, and prioritising tech and society. In 2012, the New York Department of Transportation’s ‘Midtown in Motion’ strategy reported an improvement in travel times in Midtown by 10% – achieved by implementing a ‘smart’ congestion management system that uses wireless technology to respond to real-time traffic conditions. Automated water meters also came to fruition via small devices connected to individual water meters, sending daily reading to computerised billing systems. And finally, created for entrepreneurs, technologists and tech professionals, The NYCx Challenge invites members to participate in open competitions and propose bold ideas that solve real urban needs. From issues such as pollution, income inequality and transport, such professionals look at ways to improve the way New Yorkers live, support a thriving economy and create good-paying jobs.
In Amsterdam, navigating the city is a breeze due to the opening of data vaults. By sharing traffic and transportation data with interested parties such as developers, mapping apps connected to the city’s transportation systems have become available – making residents lives more straightforward and boosting productivity. Additionally, to address the increasing overcrowding problem, the city supported the ‘floating village of houses’ initiative, which generated power within communities and provided water straight from the river – offering sustainable, energy-efficient alternatives.
Implantable Mobile Phones
Transhumanism is not new, but the technology granting utilisation is perhaps reinforcing the agenda. Winter Mraz, an advocate for implantable technology, explains that she has multiple micro-chips in her body that act as her keys, business card and medical information. She also wants to invest in two LED implants that light up when she passes a magnet for entertainment. She believes that she is improving her physical and mental limitations by upgrading her body through incorporating technology. Ms Mraz endured her first “cyber-enhancement” after a serious car crash that led her to fracture her back, both her ankles and knees. The subsequent procedures she underwent involved surgeons “bolting her spine back together” and one of her kneecaps replaced with a 3D-printed version on the NHS; “if it was not for my cybernetic kneecap, I would not be able to walk,” she said. After her accident, she then moved into voluntary personal modifications, claiming that “not altering your body is a very ableist way of living. People who are disabled don’t have that choice. It is made for us.”