Monday, April 14, 2008
A New York Professor has advocated the idea of Google type brain implant chips that would "improve human memory", an idea which mirrors already active projects funded by the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.
"However difficult the practicalities, there’s no reason in principle why a future generation of neural prostheticists couldn’t pick up where nature left off, incorporating Google-like master maps into neural implants." writes New York University professor of psychology Gary Marcus.
"This in turn would allow us to search our own memories — not just those on the Web — with something like the efficiency and reliability of a computer search engine." he postulates.
"How much would you pay to have a small memory chip implanted in your brain if that chip would double the capacity of your short-term memory? Or guarantee that you would never again forget a face or a name?"
Clearly DARPA would pay quite a lot, given that the research arm of the US military continues to fund scientific development of that exact technology.
The justification for the continued funding of such research is to develop a substitute for damaged or diseased brain regions, holding promise for victims of Alzheimer’s disease, stroke and other brain traumas.
Yet even the scientists currently at work on such projects know that the real application for the implant devices would be in the commercial and military sectors. After all, why would the Pentagon have such a keen interest in curing Alzheimer’s?
In 2003 Popular Science reported:
Medicine aside, Biomedical engineer Theodore Berger sees potential commercial and military applications for the brain chip, which is partially funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. Learning how to build sophisticated electronics and integrate them into human brains could one day lead to cyborg soldiers and robotic servants, he says.
In his Times piece, New York Professor Gary Marcus concludes:
"Would this turn us into computers? Not at all. A neural implant equipped with a master memory map wouldn’t impair our capacity to think, or to feel, to love or to laugh; it wouldn’t change the nature of what we chose to remember."
Clearly Mr Marcus has not considered that there is a very good reason why the human brain blocks out certain memories or feelings and why it correlates information in the way that it does.
Furthermore, cataloguing a person’s memories on an external source invariably means that an entity external to that particular person, be it a company, corporation or government, could conceivably gain access to those memories.
The more that entity knows about the population, the more it can and inevitably will use that information to control it for their own benefit and profit.
This concept may seem completely outlandish to many, yet it has been the central focus of DARPA activities for some time with projects such as LifeLog, which seeks to gain a multimedia, digital record of everywhere a person goes and everything they see, hear, read, say and touch.
Wired Magazine has reported:
On the surface, the project seems like the latest in a long line of DARPA’s “blue sky” research efforts, most of which never make it out of the lab. But DARPA is currently asking businesses and universities for research proposals to begin moving LifeLog forward.
"What national security experts and civil libertarians want to know is, why would the Defense Department want to do such a thing?" the article asks. The answer lies in the stated goal of the US military – "Total Spectrum Dominance".
Furthermore, Mr Marcus’ assertions that the neuro technology would not be in any way dominant over a person’s capacity to think, does not tally with DARPA’s Brain Machine Interfaces enterprise, a $24 million project reported on in the August 5, 2003 Boston Globe.
The project is developing technology that "promises to directly read thoughts from a living brain – and even instill thoughts as well… It does not take much imagination to see in this the makings of a matrix-like cyberpunk dystopia: chips that impose false memories, machines that scan for wayward thoughts, cognitively augmented government security forces that impose a ruthless order on a recalcitrant population." The Globe reported.
It is also well documented that the military and the federal government have been dabbling in mind control and manipulation experimentation for decades.
Mr Marcus may be a well meaning scientist and may very well see such technology as progressive for humanity, but when it is being developed by military commanders under governments that have killed and oppressed billions across the globe in the last century alone, the prospect becomes somewhat sullied to say the least.
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