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Brain Bridging

A more perfect union

By | Christof Koch | Patrick House |

The popularity of both legal and illegal bicortical fusion, colloquially known as Brain Bridging, has increased greatly since the technique’s introduction almost a decade ago.

In the mid-twentieth century, it was shown in Nobel-prizewinning experiments that a human brain could be split in half by cutting the 200 million wires connecting its two hemispheres, thus preventing the spread of seizure from one side to the other. Remarkably, the two halves then showed signs of independent consciousness, with each hemisphere having distinct abilities (in many cases, for example, only the left hemisphere could speak), preferences and memories.

In the early twenty-first century, consciousness scholars speculated about the reverse of these procedures. If two normal brains were connected with adequate bandwidth, would they form a single, conscious mind or remain as two?

Bridging directly connects billions of neurons in one brain with those in a second, mimicking the brain’s natural bridge between its two halves. Remarkably, two people, once Bridged, seem to be able to share all of their sensations, daydreams, memories and thoughts. The Bridged will respond to questions about their experience as if they are a single, unified self. But are they? How can we know?

The effects of Bridging challenge many legal and ethical norms. In January, a Pentagon official was sentenced to one year in prison after Bridging with a foreign diplomat who could have gained access to the classified information in his memories. Last year, two men, both eye witnesses to a terrorist attack, each with only partial first-person information, were forced by the FBI to Bridge in order to provide a complete account of events. Four years ago, a woman was denied life-insurance benefits after arguing that she had died while Bridging with her therapist, only to be reborn when it was over. And just last month, the infamous duo known as #BonnieClyde — who gained folk-hero status after robbing a bank while Bridged — were acquitted after the government decided to try them as co-conspirators but failed, or so a jury member claimed in a post-trial interview, to show intent.

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