Thursday, May 5

Wormsign: "I feel magnetic fields."

Todd Huffman has a sense we don't. It's an extension of touch; it's an ability to sense, via a neodymium magnet implanted into his left third fingertip, magnetic fields around him.


Now, he says he doesn't have particularly high resolving power (that is, fine details escape him) but he can tell gross characteristics of static bar magnet fields from 1-2 inches away, and detect powerful oscillating fields from 1 or 2 feet. He also says it isn't really of much utility to him -- it's just stuff he notices. But imagine! If this is the kind of thing tattoo parlours can do with a few months' planning and research, think of what a dedicated research program could do. Imagine knowing, as a consequence of having touched something, what its magnetic characteristics are in the same way you know what its hardness and temperature are. I can't even imagine the ways in which that's useful, but I'm sure it is.

One thing I can tell you right now it does really well is to integrate into the unconscious information that, right now, we have to think about. That's the way we're going to be able to hack our biological machinery to deal with mid-late 21st century infodensity. Funnel it through the mechanisms we already have for filtering, in parallel, enormous amounts of information. (pop quiz: are you aware of the pressure your hand is exerting on your mouse at this second?)

This will be big.

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