Most Americans have never heard of DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) which is a major source of science funding. DARPA also gave us the Internet and pioneered the research that gave us computer-interface windows, Siri, GPS, stealth fighters, and drones. DARPA has also been behind much of psychological research and its advances since the 50's spurred by fears that Communist brainwashing indicated we were lagging in psychological warfare research. What's next? Robotic exoskeletons that can carry 200 lb loads while sprinting 20 km. Soldiers piloting drones not with their hands but directly with their thoughts. Transcranial pulsed ultrasound helmets that stimulate alertness, reduce stress, and enhance cognition and memory. Special forces and drone pilots already use amphetamines to stay awake on multi-day missions. "DARPA's project Cognitive Technology Threat Warning System seeks to use technology ... to monitor and alert a warfighter to his own neural recognition of danger before he consciously perceives it." I read another book that claims that freewill is an illusion because we become aware of our thoughts half-a-second AFTER they occur. Ultimately, DARPA wants to be able to read minds and alter your behavior remotely like they did in a primitive fashion in the video below with cats and bulls.
I read the first edition of this book a few years back, and I didn’t finish it, because I met a dude overseas who worked in military intelligence, and I thought he’d be interested in it. It’s sort of fortunate that I didn’t finish it, because the 2012 update (initially published in 2006) includes a lot of new technological advances. Yes, I just noticed that was a six-year difference. There’s some book out there that says everything you know now will be changed and revised in like 20 years or something. It seems the cycles getting faster and faster, and maybe you do have to keep reading book updates or non-fiction writers should constantly write updates. Stephen Hawking just comes up with new books every few years. I remember reading this book the first time and being astonished at how the military basically funded most psychological research in America. “In the early 1950s, nearly all federal funding for social science came from the military…” and the CIA found ways of setting up dummy foundations that gave grants to other foundations to get research done without the researcher knowing they were working for the CIA basically. But the author, an ethicist and prominent name in neuroscience ethics, argues that the current system of the military funding open university studies is better than what the Soviets did, and that was set up their own research facilities in complete secrecy with no public accountability. While public research has its security breaches and malevolent people can abuse the research, it still beats a secret system. The author brings up the interesting point of how advances in mind control and mind reading and all the other neuro-weapons like gene-modification and anthrax can turn against us pretty quickly, but what is the best alternative? Create a global moratorium on all neuroscience research that can possibly be weaponized? First of all, how could you define that? Finding a cure for diseases, you will create technology that will enable people to create even more lethal diseases and diseases resistant to new cures. Second, even if most nations complied, if some rogue nation didn’t or some rogue group, why let them get ahead of everyone else? Weapons technology simply cannot be stopped. When someone creates a better defensive weapon in self-defense, someone has to create a better offensive weapon to defeat it. So good intention does stimulate more bad intentions.
Of course, this brings us to the human limitation dilemma. We’re designed through millions of years of evolution to thrive in the wild hunting and gathering. Our brains, our culture, our physiology, our psychology, our minds are not equipped to handle the exponential explosion of technology. Our rudimentary ethical system is designed to keep peace between individuals and tribes not nations and technology. The true problem I see is not inventing some rogue disease with no cure that will wipe out billions of us, the true problem is inventing an artificially intelligent being smart enough to override its principal programming (of protecting and serving humans) and deciding, perhaps intelligently that humans are a horrible evolutionary mistake and should be controlled not allowed to roam free and destroy the planet and other planets for that matter. But then again, is that a problem? However, what if that artificially intelligent being thinks like a human and decides to enslave us instead? It would be so smart, we wouldn’t even know it. In fact, we’d all be made to forget we ever created it. Fact is, while the future tends to resemble the past, our technological advances are creating things the world has never seen ever before, and current evidence suggests that we are doing a s***ty job adapting to new technology which we are using to harm our health and the health of our habitat. Perhaps, the only reasonable way we can survive is by submitting ourselves to the authority of a smarter artificially intelligent being that can ensure that we do not destroy ourselves and everything we touch.
In the first, book, I thought the author covered more of the abuses of earlier US experiments on prisoners, soldiers, even unsuspecting civilians like the Unabomber. While you can’t blame his tormenting psychological experiments as the cause of his terrorism, you certainly can’t exclude it as a major contributing factor toward his mental decline. I’d like to think the government is more accountable today, but then we have the NSA, Guantanamo, water-boarding, Abu Ghraib, and while the author says there is no secret government research programs, you have to laugh. The Stealth program was a secret for a long time, so there is no doubt there are secret neuroscience programs we have never heard of and perhaps the author has never heard of or has and is unwilling to talk about it for fear of losing government favor. So fact, is we’re probably going to get screwed in the end by government one way or another. If you think the government reading all your texts and emails is bad, just imagine a government that can read your mind. It’s not speculative. It’s just a matter of when.