Since we're being really hypothetical here anyways, let's presume you wouldn't need a device to remind you to breath; you would just experience pain in chest when you haven't taken a breath in a while, just as you do now.
This question actually has me thinking about "concious control" though. I've been trying to think of a bodily process that I can conciously control that isn't muscular, and I can't think of one. I cannot directly make myself sweat, digest food, secrete hormones, or otherwise control the chemical processes of my body. Which makes me wonder whether this is a fundamental limitation, or something that can be overcome, either through will or technology. – Nick
There are cases of monks learning to control certain supposedly involuntary body functions, including heartbeat and metabolic rate, through meditation. While they accomplished this without the use of technology, bio-feedback devices, which visually display the status of a subtle body activity, have been used to help people overcome various problems, including migrane headaches, by learning how to consciously control them. (mb)
How many monks have you seen doing this? I believe it is true to some extent, but you seem remarkably glib about it. What are the bases for your claims? On the lighter side, I just finished reading Iain M. Banks' The Player of games - a different kind of science fiction. Here, all of the above are done throught "genofixing" and "glanding". There's a lot more weird stuff in there - definitely worth a read, but not for "goody-goody", Asimov-like SF lovers. (rb)
I don't think I'm being "glib" – I did say that "there are cases of", as opposed to "it is widely known that" ... In any case, here are links to abstracts of journal papers about meditation being used to control autonomic responses. I realize that just because something has been published doesn't mean it's true, but the presence of these papers in refereed literature shows that there is at least some evidence to support it.
Maybe to even out the questions a little more, the driving test one could be changed to "a year in solitary confinement" a la Shawshank Redemption. Also, the driver's test would have to be taken at a DMV similar to the one in Mountain View CA that I'm familiar with, where some of the DMV employees who administer the tests are nasty nit-pickers.(mb)
These cases only point to enhanced activity/slowdown in metabolism after years of practicing meditation. This is not different from the kind of mental alertness, physical endurance or hyper-activity levels that martial arts are supposed to impart. They do not point to active control of the involuntary actions/senses by a human. Likewise, hibernation is an adaptive (and automatic) mechanism in cold-blooded animals, not an active control mechanism. Also, in these "elevated" states, the monks are virtually incapable of accomplishing anything else - i.e. they are meditating, period. The situation you speak of, that is, breath control in some form while "living" your life, is a little different.(rb)
Whales and other marine mamals are concious breathers. This means they are never fully asleep, because part of their brain needs to remain awake so they'll remember to breathe (or they drown). I wouldn't mind having to conciously breathe so much if I could wait 30 minutes between breaths, and if my brain was otherwise adapted to it. –Emily
P == NP or P != NP
Especially if you could pick which one was true :-)
Immortality comes to mind, but that's probably too general. –Emily
Immortality, or control over the aging process? (MT)
Knowledge transfer from one biological vessel to another, be it
biological or digital.