There’s a frightening new technology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) that’s right out of a comic book. Scientists at the technical school have figured out how to implant false memories in a mouse.
This technological ‘advancement’ is terrifying when considering that it could lead to real life brainwashing and mind control like that shown in the classic movie The Manchurian Candidate (the classic film starring Frank Sinatra). In the film, communists turn an average man into an assassin by implanting false memories into his mind.
A similar plot is found in Total Recall. The brainwashing shown in these movies were fantasy, but what’s happening at MIT is apparently real.
A team of MIT researchers led by neuroscientist Susumu Tongawa figured out how to encode memories in the brains of mice by manipulating neurons. They even have a name for their technique, optogenetics, and it allows them to manipulate brain cells with chemicals. Remember the term optogenetics; we’re going to be hearing a lot about it in years to come.
Basically, these scientists have figured out how to hack the brain much like cyber crooks can hack your computer. They’re still a long way from hacking human brains, but that seems to be the goal here.
What’s really frightening is that the purpose of this research has not been revealed. What purpose would false memories serve? Could soldiers be programmed to forget things they saw on the battlefield that might embarrass politicians back home? Prisoners could be programmed to forget about abuse or, worse, reprogrammed to commit treason; in other words, a real-life Manchurian Candidate. Could people be convinced to do things that they believe are unethical, such as kill?