Advances in neurotechnology
May 27, 2002 11:24 AM   Subscribe

Advances in neurotechnology are creating a great need for more public debate of their ethical and legal ramifications, according to these two articles in The Economist. While everyone is focused on cloning and stem cells, will it be neuroscience that turns society into a Philip K. Dick story? If so, I want a mood organ.
posted by homunculus (3 comments total)
also, almost every interesting trait in genetics it multifactorial, meaning it's a combination of genes, gene families, maternal genes and uterine hormone concentrations, environmental toxins and chemicals, social interaction etc. even things as seemingly biological as diabetes and cancer are like this, to say nothing of things like risk-aversion, which is so murky most genetics researchers would avoid entirely. you only get probabilities in genetics, especially for things like depression, people will get better at those numbers, but neurobiology pretty much has the option of ignoring the cause, and looking only at the results. that's pretty powerful.

did genetics make the guy depressed, or strange hormone concentrations in pregnancy, or a chemical spill when he was 13? neurobiology can be unconcerned with these questions, if they can look in your brain and see that you are depressed, they can then try and treat the end result, or the symptoms and be unconcerned with the cause. these undefined causes, on the other hand, are what make genetic analysis hard.
posted by rhyax at 2:02 PM on May 27, 2002

I already have a mood organ. However, I am only supposed to play it in private. At least that is what my mother said when I was 5.

I am less frightened by neurobiology than by the covert manipulation possible via findings in psychology and psychiatry. Neurotech is probably going to be invasive so you would at least know when some plants something in you head. The covert psychological manipulations that can produce attitude change are already fairly well understand and in daily use by advertisers, retailers, politicians, spin doctors and the suave guy at the end of the bar.

That stuff makes me wonder how often I have been manipulated. How much of my thought is rational and free?
posted by srboisvert at 2:10 PM on May 27, 2002

srboisvert. Suggest these two books by Robert Greene for a historical survey of psychological manipulations. The Art of Seduction and The 48 Laws of Power
posted by stbalbach at 5:00 PM on May 27, 2002

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