01 October 2008

iPlant in embryo

Tonight's episode of Buzz Out Loud mentions an entry on Technically Incorrect about a Mail Online article describing the latest in transcranial magentic stimulation (TMS) research. This time it's a 'thinking cap' from Sydney University that supposedly improves cognitive performance on a number of tasks, with a subsequent slump in performance when the hat is turned off. What's interesting here is the tone of the main researcher, Professor Allan Snyder:

'I believe that each of us has within us non-conscious machinery which can do extraordinary art, extraordinary memory and extraordinary mathematical calculations.' ... 'Imagine if I could temporarily give you a child's look at the world'.

Though this may be little more than a crackpot media stunt, what's important to me are the reactions it creates in the public mind, regardless of the actual scientific merits. Snyder is openly pushing for stimulation of the living human brain for the purpose of enhancement, i.e. not just for sick people but for EVERYONE. With so few scientists willing to acknowledge the imminence of neurological enhancement, people like Snyder and Kevin Warwick set the tone for the breaking of the blood brain barrier, our neural cherry, our innocence, our wishful myths.

So what was the reaction of the public mind? Quoting Buzz Out Loud guest-host Veronica Belmont"No no, no, not OK with this, terrible terrible idea, something could go horribly wrong... I am not comfortable with this idea."

More from Allan Snyder's research centre here: http://www.centreforthemind.com/whoweare/index.cfm
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