An implant for every problem: How neuroscience is threatening our future
Advances in research in medicine, social sciences, cognition, computer sciences and neurosciences are more and more focused today on developing cognitive implants: An implant for every single problem.
The Human Brain Project, that is working with brain emulations or copying the human brain, neuron by neuron, is now developing implants or BCIs (brain computer interfaces) that can be used for medical purposes for among others treatment of all kinds of human problems ranging from addiction, to ADHD, to insomnia, multiple sclerosis, obesity, pain, Parkinson’s, blindness, deafness, schizophrenia and stroke.
Every year, scientists all over the world meet at the so called “Singularity Summit”. At the meetings transhumanists and neuroscientists discuss the progress made. They talk about brain emulation, but also emulation of the endocrine system and the simulation of the human nervous system. Among the most known are Anders Sandberg and Nick Bostrom. “The Artificial Brain” is today described as the most important challenge of our times. In most discussions, the fact that this emulation only can be done on the human brains of completely healthy individuals is as good as denied and avoided.
The emulation of the human brain is possible because of progresses in nanotech and electro-magnetic technology that can read what’s going on in the human brain and that can go in to repair, regenerate and replace damaged or degenerated brain tissue. The project is big, multi disciplinary. You have people working with neuro informatics (that has to do with both computer and brain science), neuroscience, medicine, cognition, simulation, super computers, neuro-robotics and brain computer interfaces. Among the objectives are also developing cognitive computers, human beings that functions like computers do and robots that look or function as human beings.
The main aim of the Human Brain Project is to simulate the human brain. HBP collaborates with the most important and the biggest of the 13 science institutes in Germany, Great Britain, Spain, France, Switzerland, Sweden, Israel, Australia and Belgium.
But this is not the end of the large scale collaboration because the HBP works with around 100 institutions within neurosciences, genetics, applied mathematics, computer sciences, robotics and social sciences. One of the reasons to emulate or copy the human brain, neuron by neuron, is to be able to test medication directly into a computer and even how the different implants function and adjust in the brain. But not only medicine will take advantage of this science, but robotics, the social sciences, BCI-development and cognitive computing.
According to Zack Lynch, author of the book “The neuro revolution: How brain science will change our world”, today’s computer science will completely change our world. One of the research areas will be neuro-marketing that will be used by huge corporations with the ability to read people’s thoughts and therefore using targeted marketing will increase their sales.
Within neuroscience, the assumption is that the human brain is determining human evolution and will decide people’s destiny in life. With the help of neuro-tech, scientists believe that they can predict which type of brain that will lead to which type of behavior. Some brains will be regarded as criminal, creating a “Minority Report” society, where it is believed that human behavior is already determined by the workings of the brain and can be detected in early life. All discussion about environment, the power of the situation, and brain plasticity (we are constantly changing our brains) is avoided. With the lack of ethical discussions, free will, the sense of having an identity, and spiritual ideas are regarded as bi products of the workings or the brain. You cannot become more mechanical than that.
All the research is further centralized to be able to share information between the scientists in the many different research institution by using cloud technology. To copy the human brain, takes lots of space, and the huge information is stored sometimes through the internet.
Brain emulation is also supposed to revolutionize information technology. The brain is more powerful than any computer today. It can repair itself if it breaks, and it can simultaneously get access to an enormous memory bank; it is creative and it can make decisions even when there is a lack of information. At the same time, the brain consumes little power, and it is believed that creating something similar to the human brain, would revolutionize computer sciences.
Of course, there is a problem with the way scientists view the brain: at the same time as it is seen as predetermined, it is seen as self-regulating and plastic.
This science of developing cognitive implants is not new at all. Already in the 70s there were many already developed neural implants. What is different is that since then, the tech is so small, that it can change biological and neural processes on the cell level and this same method can create changes in a human being’s identity and personality.
There are no implants that today that are able to improve a human life. At least that’s what Chris Van Hook, a scientist in the sciences of BCIs and neural implants is claiming. At IMEC, where he works, they’ve developed implants that are so small, that they can affect humans at the cell level.
EGE, European Group of Ethics, wrote in 2005 a report with the name “Ethical Implants in the Human Body”. The members of EGE say that ICT-implants (ICT for information communication technology), can be used to torture people and that ethical discussions and a regulation by the technology by law is necessary. Today, there are no laws that regulate or even recognize the implant technology even if it is the hugest research area right now. In contrary, laws have been made that make research possible and the collaboration between institutions like science labs, corporations, state and the military easier.
It is also important to know that more and more victims of this technology came out to tell their stories after the year 2000 and 2005. There is no ethical discussion about how this technology is developed and there are no laws whatsoever prohibiting the tech to be used on people without consent. When there are no laws that are recognizing the technology, there is no knowledge made available either for those who can protect human beings from abuses. On the national level, there is often a lack of explicit laws that absolutely prohibit experimentation on human beings. Unfortunately – when there are over national or international laws regulating research or human rights – they are often seen as guide lines, but there is nothing that really forces anyone to apply them. The problem becomes more acute then and the science even more dangerous.
When ethical discussions are missing, national laws not enforced, and a huge technological area completely denied, one should be suspicious. Because there might be a good reason: crimes against humanity going on, completely unnoticed.