Apparently the “TNT program” from DARPA is a thing. And if the US military research program achieves its goal, mind hacking could soon take on a whole new meaning.
Supercharging the ‘Knowledge Receptors’ in Your Brain
Using ‘Targeted Neuroplasticity Training’, DARPA aims to effectively put the knowledge receptors of the brain on a workout program, thus allowing information to be uploaded to the brain many times quicker than traditional methods.
Much like in The Matrix, where Keanu Reeves’ character instantly uploads martial art and weapons skills, DARPA envisions using neurostimulation methods to activate something called “synaptic plasticity”. That’s “the brain’s ability to alter the connecting points between neurons — a requirement for learning”. They plan to use this for military purposes to “further enhance the most effective existing training methods” for military personnel.
Like many scientific breakthroughs there are wonderful potential applications that may come to the mass market as “downloadable learning”: new languages, improving skill sets, retraining employees. But there are also applications that may be used for nefarious means — for example, hacking and terrorism-related skills.
Of Course We’re Thinking About Bitcoin Exchanges…
Hacking in the financial industry, including cryptocurrency related businesses, has become increasingly prevalent over the past few years. Businesses across the spectrum, from central banks to Bitcoin exchanges have struggled to keep both money and customer details safe from malicious actors.
The emergence of cryptocurrency has also led to a niche market of “ransomware” emerging, where hackers overtake a system and demand a bitcoin payment to release it back to the rightful owner. It is possible that in the future employees will constantly update their skill sets in almost real time in order to thwart evolving security exploits.
While ‘TNT’ mind hacking is only in the research phase, being able to hack the neuroplasticity of the human brain is eerily reminiscent of the CIA’s “blank slate” experiments of the 1950s. Author Naomi Klein’s book The Shock Doctrine detailed a controversial program where people considered mentally ill were given electro-shock therapy in order to effectively wipe out their existing personality and mental state so doctors could attempt to rebuild it from scratch.
The experiments were later banned but Klein’s theory was that the tactic of using “shock” to rebuild a human mind was adapted to whole populations — firstly by using military invasions to push through unpopular economic changes, and much later by using the shock of natural disasters.
Though possibly safer, effective mind hacking is still some way off, first mover advantage could see the US military having a distinct advantage in areas such as combat and espionage. However from a non military standpoint the technology seems like a Pandora’s box.
Would you upload knowledge to your brain, if you could? Let’s hear your thoughts.
Images via Pixabay