We’re all overloaded with information, and even Googling our way through is less like wielding a digital machete than sucking on a data hose. It’s gotten so bad that we’re having a hard time dealing with, say, large blocks of text. Kind of makes you yearn for a nice librarian (a sexy one works too). But DARPA has another solution. The Economist writes:
In 2002, America’s Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency, best known for developing the internet four decades ago, embarked on a futuristic initiative called Augmented Cognition, or “AugCog”. Commander Dylan Schmorrow, a cognitive scientist with the navy, devised a crown of sensors to monitor activity in the brain such as blood flow and oxygen levels. The idea was that modern warfare requires soldiers to think like never before. They have to do things that require large amounts of information, such as manage drones or oversee a patrol from a remote location. The system can help soldiers make sense of the flood of information streaming in. So if the sensors detect that the wearer’s spatial memory is becoming saturated, new information will be sent in a different form, say via an audio alert instead of text. In a trial in 2005 the device achieved a 100% improvement in recall and a 500% increase in working memory.
There’s even an Augmented Cognition International Society, which sounds like the most productive club ever.