Interdisciplinary Research (IDR) Teams at the 2012 National Academies Keck Futures Initiative Conference on The Informed Brain in the Digital World explored common rewards and dangers to humans among various fields that are being greatly impacted by the Internet and the rapid evolution of digital technology. During the conference, IDR Teams grappled with the idea of the Internet and other digital technology as largely unexplored phenomenon in relation to neurology. Participants agreed that there was insufficient research published about the relationship between the Internet and the brain. Each topic seemed to imply great gains and potential dangers for humans, and the tone of the conference was that it is not clear which way the pendulum will swing.
As people move into a digital world where the possibilities seem infinite, it is important to continue to consider whether or not this is a world people will want to live in, and how individuals will maintain some degree of control over their environment. What will be the result on individual behavior and the actions of societies if we have access to unlimited knowledge, can read people’s minds, remember everything that occurred in the past or know years in advance how one may die? However much humans try to harness technology and use innovation to their benefit, it may be impossible to predict the effect of technological change and anticipate its consequences.