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I’d like to write by thinking; or, getting good ideas in the shower sucks. July 23, 2010

Posted by Conventioneering in Armchair philosophy, FOR SCIENCE.
Tags: ,

I’m only mostly dead.

And there’s quite a lot of difference between ‘mostly dead’ and ‘all dead’.

I won’t be posting as much as I did in June, but I’m going to do my best to update more than once in a blue moon. Maybe. We’ll see.

ANYWAY. Today’s thoughts!

I read an article today that someone actually tweeted by thinking. This was accomplished by using an EEG machine that the guy programmed by looking at letters and telling the machine to recognize when he was thinking of individual letters, or some such madness. In the same article was information about another EEG device that you could program to recognize when you think about typing characters and it would thus type for you. Basically, instead of sitting here typing, I could think about the movement I use to type the letter ‘a’ and the machine would do it for me.

Immediately, I can hear the outcry. “My god!” everyone says. “It’s bad enough that we have cell phones that let us tweet our every passing thought! How much worse will it be when that becomes literal! WHAT IF THE GOVERNMENT CAN USE THIS TO READ OUR THOUGHTS!”

First of all, the impression I get is that you have to concentrate to type, and second, this is hardly mind-reading. Well… I suppose it is mind-reading of a sort, but this would be more the cloudy surface thoughts. There’s no probing of our darkest secrets and desires going on here, unless you happen to be thinking of them at the time. Yet everyone has some self control, and unless in the future there’s a way to set your brain-to-text program to livestream your thoughts you’re probably safe. And even when you are, I’d hope you’d have the prescience to not think about your deep lust for purple haired catboys*, or whatever the popular kink of The Future is.

Personally, I’m kind of excited about this technology. I’m not much of a doomsayer, and even during humanity’s most facepalm inducing moments I try to keep an optimistic attitude. See, in my case, I have a bit of a problem – I get my very best ideas in awkward situations that are not conducive to writing stuff down, particularly since I can’t read my own handwriting. They come to me while I’m on my bicycle, while I’m washing dishes, on the train, at work, or, worst of all, when I’m about to fall asleep. The moment I manage to get home, finish my work, or wake up to grab a notebook, the ideas have vanished, sundered by my sudden distraction.

But if I had a device where I could simply concentrate to write, I could easily write while on a nice bicycle ride. Or, if that requires too much concentration, it would make my daily sessions of writing on the train quite a bit easier. I wouldn’t have to have my laptop balanced precariously on my knee while I try to take Metrorail’s advice and watch out for electronics-snatchers, and I wouldn’t have to awkwardly shuffle around to let someone out. I could simply look out the window, think a bit, and have everything written down for me.

And it’d certainly save my wrists some strain.

*Disclaimer: I am not into purple catboys. Actually, I only date planes.

Edit before posting: Sadly, when I returned home, I was unable to find the actual tweet I found the article in! Tweeting by thinking actually happened, at least, and I am fairly sure about the rest, but I suppose this is what I get for writing on the train.



1. Lily - July 23, 2010

Something kind of similar but way more unlikely-seeming happened on an episode of House. Do you watch it by any chance?

Jensen - July 23, 2010

I do not. Mostly because hospital shows for some reason make me want to punch people, even if they have smug bastards in them (I do like smug bastards).

2. Colin - July 23, 2010

I’m all in favour of devices that allow me to read my own handwriting.

Jensen - July 24, 2010

I’m glad I’m not the only one with this problem.

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