“I think everything we make is an extension of the brain, 'cause it all emerged from the brain,” he said. “If you could look at human progress like if it was timelapsed, you would literally see that these thoughts spill over into the world in the form of technologies.”
A ‘double-edged sword'
Silva's message and his enthusiasm about all things tech and the future can be overwhelming, but he would rather people look at it with wonder instead of fear.
Take the alphabet, for example, which he calls “the greatest information technology in the history of the world.”
“The alphabet allows you on the one hand to compose Shakespearean sonnets, to capture the imagination, to enliven your mind,” he said. “On the other hand, you can use the alphabet to compose hate speech. So technology has always been a double-edged sword.”
It's up to us to create a culture in which we use these tools for the better, he added.
Another person working in the area of brain science, Dr. Adam Gazzaley, also has urged people to balance the potential for harnessing new mobile technology for good against unforeseen negative effects. Gazzaley is director of the Neuroscience Imaging Center at the University of California, San Francisco. His recent projects include the PBS special “The Distracted Mind.”
Writing for CNN last fall, he warned that mobile technology's constant interruptions are challenging our ability to focus; however, there also is evidence that the technology can be used to improve our minds.
“There are ongoing efforts by cognitive science laboratories and companies to develop cognitive assessment and brain training software that will function on mobile phones and tablets. This field is still in its infancy, but early signs are encouraging,” he said.