THE TRANSHUMANISM SCRAPBOOK: MAPPING MEMORIES IN MICE, HUMANS NEXT?April 15, 2015
The world constantly grows into a stranger and more Orwellian place almost daily, and for those following the transhumanism meme, the news - shared with is by Mr. V.T. and Mr. S.D. - grows even more dangerous, if not weirder. Scientists now claim they have mastered the ability to map the memories of mice, and, as the second article below implies, the ability to alter memories:
Note that this article follows a standard theory that memories are stored in the connections and networks of synapses:
"Scientists may have cracked the code of memories by successfully tracing how they are imprinted on the brain. An experiment charted the nerve cell changes that occurred within rats’ brains as they made decisions—a process that could prove life changing if replicated in humans.
“'For decades scientists have been trying to map memories in the brain. This study shows that scientists can begin to pinpoint the precise synapses where certain memories form and learning occurs,' explained James Gnadt, a program director at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke." (Emphasis added)
But now consider this contradictory article from Scientific American:
...and this relevant passage:
"The idea that synapses store memories has dominated neuroscience for more than a century, but a new study by scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles, may fundamentally upend it: instead memories may reside inside brain cells.
Then later, this:
"If memory is not located in the synapse, then where is it? When the neuroscientists took a closer look at the brain cells, they found that even when the synapse was erased, molecular and chemical changes persisted after the initial firing within the cell itself. The engram, or memory trace, could be preserved by these permanent changes. Alternatively, it could be encoded in modifications to the cell's DNA that alter how particular genes are expressed. Glanzman and others favor this reasoning."
All this has suggested that perhaps memory is not even in brain cells, but somehow, throughout the body and perhaps - as I personally believe - non-locally, in the aether, so to speak. But in any case, the Scientific American article also suggests a technique for memory reconstruction and modification:
"Lately researchers have been crafting a work-around: evidence suggests that when someone recalls a memory, the reactivated connection is not only strengthened but becomes temporarily susceptible to change, a process called memory reconsolidation. Administering propranolol (and perhaps also therapy, electrical stimulation and certain other drugs) during this window can enable scientists to block reconsolidation, wiping out the synapse on the spot.
"The possibility of purging recollections caught the eye of David Glanzman, a neurobiologist at U.C.L.A., who set out to study the process in Aplysia, a sluglike mollusk commonly used in neuroscience research. Glanzman and his team zapped Aplysia with mild electric shocks, creating a memory of the event expressed as new synapses in the brain. The scientists then transferred neurons from the mollusk into a petri dish and chemically triggered the memory of the shocks in them, quickly followed by a dose of propranolol.
"Initially the drug appeared to confirm earlier research by wiping out the synaptic connection. But when cells were exposed to a reminder of the shocks, the memory came back at full strength within 48 hours. 'It was totally reinstated,' Glanzman says. 'That implies to me that the memory wasn't stored in the synapse.' The results were recently published in the online open-access journal eLife."
Now imagine such a technique perfected and extended. As some others who found this article and emailed it to me, could such memories reconstruction be used as the ultimate polygraph or lie detector technique? And if so, how would current legal concepts protect an individual? One could certainly make the case that the fifth amendment of the US constitution would prohibit a person from testifying against themselves via such a technique. But what about an already convicted criminal? Could an individual's memory be accessed coercively after the loss of civil rights?
And there is another looming problem confronting western jurisprudence: what if memory alteration - "personality reconstruction" - were actually made possible by such techniques. Years ago, the science fiction television series Babylon Five hypothesized just such a "punishment" - a capital punishment of sorts - of the "death of personality," i.e., the erasure of an individual personality and the construction of an artificial one, complete with new memories.
In the end, I still am of the opinion that scientists will continue to try to establish the basis of memory in merely materialistic causes and sources... and they will fail for the simple reason that memory may exist in the strange feedback loop between the material and the non-material. But even so, once this is finally acknowledged, it will still not erase the looming problems for jurisprudence. For that reason, I believe it is profoundly important that people understand that it is not simply the technological changes that will drive future western culture, but that it is vitally important to understand the debates in jurisprudence that it is already driving, and will continue to drive, for such technologies have yet another hidden potential, one dealing directly with the doctrine of the corporate person in law. Already that doctrine has produced both good, and ill, effects in society, not the least of which is the creation of group-think collectivized mentalities and the gradual erosion of individual sovereignty and responsibility. Now imagine such group cultures being enforced by corporations with the requirement that new employees receive their "memory and personality adjustment" on being employed, and you get the idea.
See you on the flip side...