“The scientist is not a person who gives the right answers; but, one who asks the right questions.” – Unknown
Now, more than ever, scientists, along with other individuals, should not be focusing on “answers” alone; but, we all should be asking questions – particularly, the right questions. So, when scientists say they have discovered “avenues to remove specific fears, boost confidence and even alter individual preferences”, the same scientists should also ask, “Is this wise to pursue?” Moreover, should not these same scientists inquire about other methods to boost confidence and control fear besides poking around in someone’s head? And, lest you think this is just science fiction, scientists in Japan, using a combination of artificial intelligence and brain scanning technology are contending to access the inner workings of the brain to control basic impulses through stimulation and AI.
Technocracy News reported on the story from Studyfinds.org.
Technocrat scientists want to access the inner workings of the brain in order to control basic impulses via stimulation and AI. The potential for brainwashing using this technology is staggering. ⁃ TN Editor
If modern science conceived of a way to “pluck” unwanted fears, thoughts, and preferences from your mind, is that something you would be interested in? It sounds impossible, but a new study on non-conscious brain stimulation may just make it a reality. Via a combination of artificial intelligence and brain scanning technology, scientists in Japan say they’ve discovered avenues to remove specific fears, boost confidence, and even alter individual preferences.
They believe that in the future these techniques may lead to new treatments for patients dealing with issues like PTSD or generalized anxiety disorder.
All of this is incredibly promising, but researchers admit they haven’t perfected their approach just yet. While the treatment they developed has proven effective with many, some individuals haven’t seen the same benefits.
Why is it that scientists always devise some sort of “science fiction type experiment” to “regulate” something an individual can do for him- or her- self? Boosting confidence can be accomplished by many methods without having AI or some scientist rummaging around in your belfry. Confidence comes from having health self-esteem or self-worth, which is improved through a personal relationship with God and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Trying a new task and being successful with its completion boosts confidence. Too many individuals today see failure as a loss or strike against oneself, instead of a learning opportunity. Some say that failure at doing something is only one method that didn’t work.
Removing fear, even “specific” types of fear, is dangerous. God gave man a “fight or flight” response as a safety measure. Removing even one “specific” fear can result in injury or death. Granted, some phobias or fears may seem irrational or unfounded. However, without knowing the root of the issue, removing that fear or phobia could result in more damage.
Let me digress for a moment. For years, I suffered a fear of heights or acrophobia. When experiencing high places, such as a rooftop, being on a ladder, riding a roller coaster, or a parachute drop at an amusement park, I suffered dizziness, increased sweating, increased heart rate, and increased respiratory rate. At times, my body would also shake. This phobia made it dangerous for me to be in those situations. Today, I no longer suffer that fear to the point of being crippled by it. It was through years of confronting those fears and trusting in God that removed that acrophobia. I don’t go looking for high places to show my conquest of that fear; but, when having to climb onto the roof using a ladder, the manageable fear helps keep me safe by preventing recklessness or over-confidence.
Fear serves a purpose. Trying to alter or change what God has given us is a recipe for disaster.
Study authors say a more thorough understanding of how the brain can self-regulate its own activity patterns would help this research immensely. In fact, this need for further information is why the team is releasing their findings right now. By releasing their dataset, they’re hoping the scientific community can help them “accelerate the translation from basic science to application.”
“Decoded neuro-feedback uses fMRI to visualize brain activity and calculate the similarity between real-time brain activity and brain activity patterns corresponding to specific pre-established memory and mental states. When a high similarity is detected, the experiment participants are rewarded with money. By repeating the simple task of rewarding each time a brain activity pattern is detected, the original memory and mental state are transformed. In this experiment, participants do not need to understand and recognize what brain activity patterns they are self-regulating,” explains Dr. Mitsuo Kawato, director of the Computational Neuroscience Laboratories at the Advanced Telecommunications Research Institute International (ATR), in a media release.
An fMRI is known as “functional magnetic resonance imaging”. This noninvasive procedure “measures the small changes in blood flow that occur with brain activity. It may be used to examine the brain’s functional anatomy, (determine which parts of the brain are handling critical functions), evaluate the effects of stroke or other disease, or to guide brain treatment. fMRI may detect abnormalities within the brain that cannot be found with other imaging techniques,” according to RadiologyInfo.org.
Looking at what the scientists are doing, one can see they are providing rewards for detected behavior. It is akin to feeding a mouse each time the mouse presses a button. Eventually, the mouse associates pressing the button with food and will press the button when it wants food. This is behavioral conditioning along the lines of Pavlov’s dog experiment. What could possibly go wrong? As we have seen time and again, many “experiments”, policies, actions, and “opinions” have unintended consequences. In the hands of nefarious individuals, like many in government agencies, this could spell disaster on a massive scale. It could be used to “brainwash” individuals without their knowledge – scientists indicated as much when saying, “participants do not need to understand and recognize what brain activity patterns they are self-regulating”.
The full study can be found here.
Within the “Background and Summary” section of the study on page one, the following statements are found:
Decoded neurofeedback (DecNef), a form of closed-loop fMRI neurofeedback combined with machine learning approaches, is a more fine-grained rendering of the long-held goal of manipulating brain dynamics or representations. [Emphasis Mine.]
As opposed to univariate approaches, where one measures the overall activity level within a region-of-interest (ROI), by treating each voxel in isolation, multivoxel pattern analysis (MVPA) is based on algorithms that learn to decode information distributed in patterns of activity. Because DecNef leverages MVPA, rather than using univariate approaches, it has high target specificity. [Emphasis Mine.]
Furthermore, while participants know that a neurofeedback experiment is taking place, they are unaware of the content and purpose of the manipulation – reducing confounds due to cognitive processes, or knowledge about the manipulated dimension. [Emphasis Mine.]
While touting participants engaged in informed consent, how can informed consent be given when the participants are not aware of the content and purpose of the manipulation? Wouldn’t you want to know whether or not your thinking patterns, preferences, fears or other emotions are being altered, manipulated or changed? What could be the long-term effects of this “experiment”?
Technocracy News concludes:
The research group has built the world’s only database of data from more than 60 people trained in Decoded Neurofeedback. This database consists of structural images of the brain, functional images of the brain, machine learning decoders, and processed data. Those who wish to use the dataset must apply through the ATR institutional repository  or Synapse , an online repository for neuroscience data. Details on how to access the dataset can be found on the ATR and Synapse websites and in the original paper.
In any other time, this would be considered an experiment a “mad scientist” would conduct. But, it appears to be business as usual in today’s time. No longer are scientists asking the right questions. They are forging ahead where no man should tread in search of answers that may not even be “right”. The door is being opened wider to expose the human population to nefarious types of “manipulation” and potential “brainwashing” through use of these techniques. Would that be one of the “right” questions to ask – what is the potential for nefarious use by nefarious agents should this experiment be successful? Is that risk worth conducting the experiment?
Too many unanswered questions abound. Moreover, why are scientists continually trying to “play God”? Their arrogance and narcissism will be the downfall of them all. Unfortunately, they may take a good many of the population with them.
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