Sunday, August 08, 2021


One of my favored blogs I've previously mentioned is "Cop Car's Beat" (her cat's name).  She mixes in some humor with accounts of her daily life, including gardening, primarily directed toward her family and friends. 

She occasionally highlights some really thought-provoking items she's ferreted from sites with which I've not been familiar.  Her background and work before retiring has been fascinating which I won't go into other than to say she has flown around quite a bit, then later she and her husband individually devoted themselves to helping others including in times of disaster.

One of her most recent posts captured my attention which she introduced for "Neuro Nerds" and prefaced with ...

"We better get on this or all sorts of things will occur automatically and we may or may not be alerted in a timely way to opt out if we're even given the choice."

The Slashdot article she briefly discusses notes that science has scanners now...

 "...making manipulation of the human mind increasingly possible, creating a need for laws and protections to regulate use of the new tools, top neurologists said."

"If you can record and change neurons, you can in principle read and write the minds of people."

"This is not science fiction.  We are doing this in lab animals."

This rather lengthy video is Dr. Rafael Yuste, a neuroscientist at New York's Columbia University discussing some of his research relative to this topic and AI (Artificial Intelligence):

Dr. Yuste said in a Reuters article:

"Usually people only start talking about ethics and regulations after a big scandal, but with neurotech I hope we can take on these questions before that scandal".

"Yuste introduced the NeuroRights Initiative, which advocates five "neuro-rights" to protect how a person's brain data is accessed and used, including a right to mental privacy and to free will."

Seems incredible to me now that mind reading is even possible, but Yuste describes the current scientific environment as being like "the Wild West".   These are a couple cautionary views with more perspectives in the Reuters article:

"Ienca at ETH Zurich said major ethical issues could arise if the data commercial neurotech devices collect is widely shared and analyzed without proper safeguards, he said.

"We already have digital biomarkers that can indicate if someone is predisposed to developing dementia.  Let's say (that) data is shared with a prospective employer, you could face discrimination on the job market," he said."

"In Chile, senate member Guido Girardi favors strict regulation.  "We didn't regulate the big social media and internet platforms in time, and it costs us.  We have lost control of all kinds of data, from our location to our romantic interests -- it's all up for sale," he said."

"If we allow for all this brain data to be taken, who knows what the consequences will be?  We'll have algorithms deciding what it means to be 'happy'," Girardi said".

We should be concerned.   Now is the time for action -- expecting and supporting our scientists to ensure criteria are established, determining what regulations may be needed and followed to protect the individual.   Does privacy matter?

What are your thoughts on the potential of mind reading and the need to establish individual rights now to protect our brains, those of our children and grandchildren from future manipulation?


  1. I have serious doubts that this will make any difference to normal people going about living their lives normally. Like Lie Detector machines and other electronic machines already in use in crime detection, such methods will be useful to some people for some specialised needs.

    1. Lie detector machines evidence isn't admissible in a court of law in U.S. but the machines continue to be used otherwise despite issues of their results credibility. Brain manipulation potential takes our rights to a whole new level of concern, I think. There likely will be scientists who will disregard any efforts to restrict their research but maybe usage can be curtailed.

  2. It is an invasion of privacy, but what can you do? We are powerless. I read that the Russians are using microwaves to alter human thinking. I am not a scientist, so I don't know how that is done.

    1. Hopefully these scientists will be able to establish some sort of ethical guidelines. Public awareness and vocal support for their actions could serve to discourage some violators knowing of the condemnation from society— better than our ignoring, IMHO.

  3. This makes me think of the recent reports of Havana Syndrome, and how it is still baffling not only medical science, but the Intelligence community as well.

    1. I thought about that, too -- quite an issue that's more than a little troubling, especially if it could be turned on to whole populations of people.

  4. Like Ramana, I doubt if all this will radically affect individual lives. With all the technology that's already available and intruding into our lives, I don't feel personally threatened by any of it. As yet, nobody is reading my mind or predicting what illnesses I'm predisposed to. I feel distinctly unbothered and un-manipulated.

    1. That's the point, to establish some guidelines early as later when individuals are directly and immediately affected will be too late.

  5. Ethics doesn't come into any of the possibility of making money from these "inventions".

    No one on the planet has any privacy left and we need to wake up to that fact or disconnect, like some, from it all.

    Our thoughts being mined for profit is just another swing of the cat. I already receive totally targeted ads from "private" conversations I've had with family and friends.

    Big Brother is so here......


    1. All the more reason why we need to try to slow and prevent any more intrusions into our lives. I, too, get those ads, obviously a result of information harvested from my so-called "private" emails due to monetizing efforts of those without scruples. Too bad some ethical guidelines, regulations and enforcement weren't established when the Internet was unleashed since those running those companies failed to exercise responsible judgment for individual privacy. Furthermore, there has been little or no effort to prevent further violations of personal privacy. This is not the time to "throw in the towel", so to speak.