New! This Aeon article considerably revises and extends my take on brain-to-brain interfaces, showing how language makes us human and arguing that it will always keep reinventing itself — if we let it:
My original chapter, a more academic take on the same topic, introduces the idea that selection and negotation are two things that explain how language makes us human:
Brain-to-brain interfaces, in which brains are physically connected without the intervention of language, promise new ways of collaboration and communication between humans. I examine the narrow view of language implicit in current conceptions of brain-to-brain interfaces and put forward a constructive alternative, stressing the role of language in organising joint agency. Two features of language stand out as crucial: its selectivity, which provides people with much-needed filters between public words and private worlds; and its negotiability, which provides people with systematic opportunities for calibrating understanding and expressing consent and dissent. Without these checks and balances, brain-to-brain interfaces run the risk of reducing people to the level of amoeba in a slime mold; with them, they may mature to become useful extensions of human agency.