Re: transcranial magnetic stimulation (was Uploading and Nanotec

Nick Bostrom (
Sat, 18 Apr 1998 23:30:42 +0000

Anders Sandberg <> wrote:

> You can do a lot more. I have read one paper where TMS was used to
> disrupt braille reading in blind (they seem to use the former visual
> cortex for it), and other experiments in disrupting language. It is a
> crude stimulus, but it works.

I've read that paper too (I think in Nature about five months ago),
and it's quite nice. The fact that people blind from an early stage
can use their visual cortex to process tactile information is one
among several phenomena that shows the remarkable plasticity of the
human neonate's brain. That is a good omen for the bottom-up approach
to superintelligence. (Because if any area of the cortex can be
trained to perform most any function, then that rules out the
hypothesis that adult-level performance depends on highly elaborate,
genetically determined cognitive modules.)

I wonder if transcranial magnetic stimulation could be used for
recreational purposes, by noninvasively stimulating the pleasure
centres? (At least it would be legal for some time before the
legislators caught up with the development.)

Nick Bostrom
Department of Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method
London School of Economics