Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Telekinetic Spaces

From India to the Planet Mars: A Study of a Case of Somnambulism with Glossolalia by Theodore Flournoy Professor of Psychology at The University of Geneva depicts a number of cases of spiritualist interest, including the account of Mlle. Smith who "really possesses the faculty of telekinesis - the ability to move ponderable objects situated at a distance, without contact and contrary to known natural laws" (1900: 5). Flourney attributed these phenemona to Martians and 'Hindoo fakirs', and as this image shows saw a link between the magically charged environments of India and Mars. Undoubtedly stunts that fascinated credulous spectators were composed of complex strategies and devices to make things appear to move. Yet, oddly enough the idea of telekinesis is now emerging as a technical possibility without arcane assistance.

MRI technologies combined with wirelessness and other brain interfaces present the possibility of environments actually controllable by the mind.

How would it work? New research at Washington University published in Journal of Neural Engineering demonstrates implants on the brain that allow the control of mice controllers (PC World 10 April 2011).Furthermore, the technical aspects of so-called 'mind controlled environments' are already being imagined for 2020 and beyond in gaming (Tech Radar 29 January 2010). Thoughts would be detected and translated into digital code by special interfaces that are bound to become more common and cheaper. Also, mind-controlled exo-skeletons are in development that amount to the same thing as mentally controlled remote objects (Wired 23 April 2010). Also, toys like Mindflex are already available in stores. It seems inevitable that public spaces, which already contain sensors and motion detectors, some even wireless enabled, will become thought-controllable.

What would they look like? Augmented technologies are already being integrated into many small technologies like spectacles and contact lenses. It could be imagined that a brain interface might sit inside a cap or hat of some kind and link to a wireless enabled 'personal server' such as a smart phone. Technologies like the Emotiv Brain Interface certainly are consumer-ready.

What would the travel implications be? The social aspects of mass telekinesis are much more of a challenge to forecast. Infrastructures that interact with large numbers of people would face new demands including the dislocation of proximity to control. For example, queue-jumping would take on new dimensions of complexity as objects like doors, lifts, and gates could potentially be accessed by multiple users from a much further distance.

Communication from a distance is already possible therefore it is not hard to imagine 'invisible' and hands-free conversations through thoughts. But telekinetic communication between people and objects might enhance and improve the control of vehicles, transactions and payments, as well as more ambitious uses including the control of doors and even perhaps traffic flows or bicycle lanes. Even autonomously powered objects might appear to defy physics, floating to their users via invisible thought commands.Blue sky social shifts could include the neglect and perhaps redundancy of speech in favour of thoughts as daily tasks are routinized via telekinesis to privilege this form of activity. Telekinetic environments are augmented reality 2.0 and the tools already exist in principle for this to happen.