Memory researchers have discovered a way to implant false memories and visions into your brains. Thereby altering, how one perceives various situations and the thought process in general. Based on implanting a seed of false suggestion, the memory could be manipulated and the notion arises; just because you’re absolutely confident you remember something accurately doesn’t mean it’s true!
The idea sounds something coming from some villain trying to take over the world, at the same time it seems exhilarating with the amount of power it gives one being over another. However in all reality, the art of implementing false memories is true and has been carried out by the Japanese scientists. While the practice may seem unethical on some grounds it carries some essential benefits like, curing autism and depression in human beings.
The idea revolves around the concept of brainwashing; Human subjects lie down in a functional magnetic resonance imaging, or fMRI, machine and play a game. During the game, they have their brains scanned, and the game gives them feedback. Afterward, they have developed new brain connections. And what’s exciting and terrifying about this is that we could do real life “inception” without the subject even being aware of what’s being learned.
This technique, namely neurofeedback, was published in Current Biology journal under the name of Takeo Watanabe of Brown University. Watanabe’s subjects learned to see the color red while looking at a picture of black and white stripes — and they had no idea they were being trained to do this!
While the whole idea seems creepy, Watanabe thinks neurofeedback could eventually be used to treat neurological and psychiatric disorders, such as depression or autism. The idea would be a similar one. In the case of depression, people would get high scores when their brain activity looked less depressed. For autism, the therapy could theoretically help people deactivate areas associated with autism symptoms.
But at the same time, this art of addition, deletion, suppression and activation of memories could be employed to make one believe in a false memory, something that never occurred. A technique readily employed by criminal forcefully making someone confess something they never did, or used by the brands to trick people to buy things they don’t really need. Similarly it could be employed to make people vote for an unwanted candidate. Therefore making the act sound all over quite unethical!!
Whereas the positive implementation involves, deletion of harsh memories and replacing them with positive ones to cure depression. And the ugly incidences of the past could be manipulated the same way, like deleting the memories pertaining to child abuse, for a healthier future ahead.
Nevertheless, whether the implications hold positive or negative impact, the question remains, is this deemed ethical? Wouldn’t the implant rob one of his/her free will and the ability to think the way they want? What difference then remains between humans and Sophia (humanoid robot)?
In a general poll, it was found that the majority of the US and UK citizens found the activity of memory manipulation acceptable as long as it left positive impacts. For them the lure of curing the ailment was far more enticing than the negative impact.
However, some completely detested the sinister idea, they were principally troubled by the mechanics of the therapy, pointing out that the notion of health professionals lying to their patients is hugely unethical. Others foresaw “mission creep”, with the intervention eventually being used for nefarious purposes.
However, one way or another one cannot deny that the past is what paves the way for the future, if that segment is disrupted and played with the person’s identity and the authenticity is at the risk of loss.