I feel like I am an extremely open-minded individual. I might not always agree with what I hear, or what other people have to say, but I am open to listening to them in order to gain a better understanding. Which is why, when I read about brain implants, I had to really open my mind to make sure I wasn’t being judgmental or closed off about this idea. But I’m not sure that I can get there. Why exactly? Well, it requires that something go into your brain. The Defense Advanced Research Agency is ready to run trials with closed-loop mood control chips linked to AI that are able to deliver an electrical impulse in order to regulate a soldiers mood.
This is what scares the heck out of me. But this is actually kind of controversial, in my opinion. Some might argue that it’s no different than taking a pill to help with your mood, but how safe is it to have this kind of implant in your brain? Elon Musk suggests that this kind of technology can help fight disease and also augment humans so they can better compete with machinery. I wish I could put emojis into this post because there would be a lot. I mean, is this what we want? Of all people, Elon Musk is afraid of the robot uprising, and yet, he’s the first to suggest that we should be better equipped to compete with machines? Therefore, turning ourselves into robots? I am going to ask a serious question here – is the world even ready for this kind of development?
The technology is advancing in campuses and government-backed labs around the world, attracting serious funding from established technology players, technology institutes, and top universities. For instance, Professor Newton Howard of Oxford University has produced a functional neural implant prototype by combining some of the brightest minds at MIT, Oxford, and Georgetown, and the resources and technical know-how of Intel and Qualcomm.
As you can see, I am not ready for this kind of implant. I can barely wrap my brain around having some kind of surgery to make myself look different (or better). I can’t imagine having a brain implant in order to act differently also. Is this even healthy? I worry that we are sacrificing health and happiness for something that we don’t really understand. If I go back to the soldier example for a moment, I wonder what this would do. We have seen cases where someone was severely depressed, so their doctor prescribed them anti-depressants. But what it did was made them emotionless. And that’s kind of what I see with the mood regulator effect that is being tested. Is this a good thing? Is it a long-term thing?
We should also think about the “what else” possibility. In the case of the soldier’s mood, it’s the military controlling the moods, so to speak. So what else are they controlling? What else could they do with this? The open-minded side of me wants to say that this could be something really great. But the skeptical side of me thinks that we have a long way to go with this idea, and I’m not convinced that it’s something that we should see in the future.