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Sensory technology not remotely as good as it sounds

November 23, 2009

o If you like reading Tim Rowland, you'll love watching him. See what else Tim has to say

There is great news in store for people who believe that typing on a keyboard and clicking a mouse are too much like work. As soon as 2020, researchers at Intel say, we will be able to interact with our computers through sensors that have been surgically implanted into our brains.

Apparently it is a new technology, although I had assumed FOX had been doing something similar for years.

According to Computerworld, Intel is learning how to "read and harness human brain waves so they can be used to operate computers, television sets and cell phones."

I think this is terrible news for men, who at this point in time have only one area left in life where we can still exert our will over women: the TV remote.

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It's a proven fact that men begin to get bored with a show at the exact instant that women begin to get interested. But as long as we control the remote, we do not have to listen to what Diane Sawyer thinks about "the Burma problem."

But what if a husband and wife each has one of these brain sensors? It could get ugly fast. They'll be sitting on the couch, eyes squinted up and thinking with all their might over whether to change the channel or leave it where it is. Face it guys, if the stronger mind prevails, 90 percent of us are doomed.

No one will marry for love anymore; it's going to be all about finding a mate with a weaker frontal lobe.

This is also bad news for Charlie Brown and his ilk. Remember all those times he's thought about calling the Little Red-Haired Girl but never followed through? If your cell phone starts dialing as soon as you think about placing a call, many embarrassing moments could ensue.

Yes, it's easier, but do you really want your boss' inbox to ding every time you think about e-mailing him to say that he's full of hot gas?

And face it, clicking a mouse is about the only exercise a lot of people these days get. What happens to their health if we deprive them of their daily workout?

But to me, the primary problem rests with the phrase "surgically implanted into your brain." According to the Computerworld story, "The scientists say the plan is not a scene from a sci-fi movie -- Big Brother won't be planting chips in your brain against your will."

Right. And your Social Security number will never be used for identification purposes. Give the government two weeks, and it'll be detecting fake charitable donations on our taxes and downloading us with flu vaccine.

The only organization likely to beat the government to the punch is the advertising community. You'll be sitting in a living room full of cans, saying, "I don't know what happened; I suddenly had the urge to load up on Del Monte brand Diced Basil, Garlic and Oregano Tomatoes."

I'm not saying there isn't some appeal to the idea of being able to write a column while lying in bed with my mouth hanging open and drool running down my chin -- which is pretty close to the way I do it now, if the truth were known. If they can install a SpellCheck sensor in my brain, I might be won over yet.

I hear geezer journalists all the time talking about how they had to write their stories on a manual typewriter, as if it were pounding railroad spikes, or something.

Maybe that will earn me some respect from young journalists in my golden years: "You mean you had to think it AND type it? Woowww."

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2324, or via e-mail at timr@herald-mail.com. Tune in to the Rowland Rant video under opinion@herald-mail.com, on antpod.com or on Antietam Cable's WCL-TV Channel 30 at 6:30 p.m. New episodes are released every Wednesday.

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