Re: BRAIN IMPLANTS

Anders Sandberg (asa@nada.kth.se)
12 Oct 1997 14:01:51 +0200


CALYK@aol.com writes:

> i found this article, it may be bogus but i think we have the technology to
> do this.
> its about how some prisoners were given brain implants to make them less
> aggressive without them knowing, and it worked.
>
> www.endoftheline.com/political/weapons/ibm_impl.htm

This looks certainly like a hoax. I have never heard of any security
division of IBM named intelli-connection and a web search only finds
other references to the above page. As Eliezer suggests, the spelling
is rather bad which would be strange for a member of a highly advanced
secret research team. It seems very unlikely that IBM would work on
sedative research (after all, it has as far as I know no knowledge-
base in medicine and pharmacology), and the descriptions of the
implants are utterly wague and definitely do not reveal any specialist
knowledge; instead some of the things sounds definitely made up - why
would there occur bleeding at the nose *and* ears after implantation if
it was done through one of them? And what really gave it away was
the 116 MHz figure. Real neural implants work in the 100 Hz-100 kHz
range, radio frequency stimulation doesn't have any effect.

To sum up, the above web page is either a not very good hoax (I know
I could write up a much more believable myself) or the result of
paranoid schizophrenia (in the past people though they heard and saw
angels and demons, now it is secret government chips).

On the other hand, behavior-influencing implants are possible, no
question about it. It is not that far from the classic rat experiments
where it was found that rats were strongly conditioned to get
stimulation in their medial septal region, over Josť Delgado's experiments
with hypothalamic stimulations and Robert Heath's experiments with
"brain pacemakers" during the 70's to a real human implant. Our brains
are not that much different than animal brains, although our motivations
get rather complex. We certainly have the technology to do implants
like this (although they would likely require open-skull surgery and
the placement of a subdermal battery to work), but fortunately it
would be extremely hard to hide and most likely far too expensive to
use in prison applications (if you are an evil Hollywood-style warden,
why not just drug the prisoners?).

As for the real brain implants, things are moving along nicely (although
likely too slow for the taste of many of us, I expect). We are learning
about the tropich factors that make neurons grow in different directions,
how to make smaller silicon probes or dies for interfaces and how
to coat them with suitable proteins. I'm getting fairly optimistic
about this area. But, as I said, the likely applications will first
be functional electric stimulation to the handicapped, artificial
senses and modulation for certain brain dysfunctions rather than
X-files style projects.

-- 
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
Anders Sandberg                                      Towards Ascension!
asa@nada.kth.se                            http://www.nada.kth.se/~asa/
GCS/M/S/O d++ -p+ c++++ !l u+ e++ m++ s+/+ n--- h+/* f+ g+ w++ t+ r+ !y