A CONVERGENCE OF BIRDS Edited By Jonathan Safran Foer


Jason Stone
3 min readOct 2, 2023

It seems likely that someday there will be a way to record our experiences using a brain implant or noninvasive brain scanning technique. Perhaps in addition to collecting data about the sensations a user experiences through their sensory organs, the system could approximate a user’s thought life. What if the portion of the brain that connects to a sensory organ is used by the brain as an “interface” for each sensation type the brain is capable of producing within the mind, even when the sensation is a product of the imagination? If probes could read the signal traveling from a sensory organ just before it reaches the brain and subtract it from the signal other probes collect from within the brain near the point where the sensory organ connects to the brain, then perhaps a residual signal would be found that corresponds to sensations a user perceives as occurring on the stage of their imagination.

A database of thoughts and experiences that are collected in this way over many years of a user’s life may assist them when attempting to make statements about their life or the world in general. If a statement the user makes appears to contradict the content of the database the system could bring it to the user’s attention and allow them to review recordings of thoughts and experiences in a way that helps them to understand why the system has detected a contradiction. The system could suggest new observations the user might wish to make to help the system to determine if a statement is justified.

A system of this sort may help users to construct a pragmatic summary of their life and tendencies in the world in general why helping them to maintain awareness of any known exceptions to generalizations they are using and encouraging them to qualify their statements when they are uncertain. Perhaps users could even combine databases in a way that allows the system to facilitate the participants arriving at some amount of intersubjective agreement about regularities in the world as they experience it by attempting summaries of the users’s experiences and suggesting behaviors that might help the participants to look for exceptions to generalizations. The system could help to track if the user is referring to sensations they have directly experienced (through their sensory organs or in their thoughts), sensations someone else has reported experiencing (through their sensory organs or in their thoughts), logical deductions with explicit assumptions the user can review, or summaries the system or the users’s mind has produced that have interesting statistical qualities even when it is not possible or practical for the user to explicitly review how the summary was produced. The system could also help the users to understand and adjust the way the participants and the system are decomposing collections of sensations into parts and labeling them in a way that could help the users and the system enter into dialog and explore generalizations that might interest them. Participants could also be encouraged to take responsibility in some practical way for the possibility that the group guessing may not always produce good results for all participants by making available some type of unconditional resources or other approaches that are appropriate for the activities the participants are engaging in. Participation could be voluntary and allow the users to participate with one another by degree instead of all or nothing while allowing for subgroups and ongoing “forking” and “merging” of experiences and generalizations instead of compulsory or all or nothing participation.