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April 19th, 2021
Imagine for a moment what it would be like if everyone knew every single word, and everyone was comfortable using the vast array of vocabulary and jargon that is technically available to us. Would our ability to communicate improve? The obvious answer seems as though it would be yes, but would the improvement be totally comprehensive? Would we suddenly be able to communicate absolutely every conceivable and possible aspect of human experience? No, of course not.
Language falls disastrously short of the project to capture and transmit human experience. And yet it’s all we really have. It’s fun to imagine if future brain machine interface technologies might enable us to achieve a kind of conceptual and emotional telepathy. It even stands to reason that language might fall out of use, like the typewriter did to the computer. If the fidelity of communication is much higher when you can have an identical experience to someone else transmitted to you, would this not be a huge leap beyond language? When someone tries to describe an experience that felt magical or powerful, what if instead of using those rather loose and worn out words someone could simply give you a taste of that experience, why would we ever use language again.
It’s fun to explore some of the further applications, like therapy. How much good might accrue if we could give each other a sense of different flavors of well being. Would we simply grow jealous and wish for more like it’s some kind of drug? Or would the experience itself be transformative?
Future possibilities aside, it’s fantastic to behold all that we’ve accomplished with language despite it’s enormous shortcomings and trappings. While it often functions like an engine of discord in our enormous family, it has also been the glue of our cooperative powers. The future of language may might turn the writers and poets into a new kind of luddite, but the implications for a new form of communication may have for our cooperative powers is simply endless: there’s just no telling what miracles we might make real if our ability to understand one another makes a quantum leap.
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