It seems to me that modern society is based entirely on control. The President is supposed to be in control of the country. The boss is supposed to be in control of the office. Individual citizens are supposed to be in control of their actions. Of course, sometimes this control gets foiled. Congress gets unruly, or the boss-man has some sort of weird spiritual awakening, or people have real, even medically unavoidable problems that affect their behavior. Sometimes we can’t help ourselves from going a little loopy, but it’s usually still considered a social blunder.
Well, on the interior individual-mind basis, science is here to help. Through a combination of glowy virus taken from algae and electric blue lasers, scientists have been able to stimulate nerve firings in specific groups of brain cells in monkeys. The eventual medical applications are potential cures for diseases like Parkinson’s, or even depression. Unlike past uses of lasers or electricity on patients, this new method would target only specific cell groups (those that weren’t working so great) and would avoid damaging the still-functioning parts of the brain.
Yet despite the limited nature of the approach, people are already speculating about mind control. While there is some creedence to the idea that getting things to fire off in our heads could eventually be manipulative, especially when targeted to certain areas, I think the mind control thing is an overreaction. Do we really think a little glowy light is suddenly going to make us do things against are will? That kind of direct manipulation is ridiculous. We don’t even know enough about the brain to tell which groups of cells to fire when to achieve certain behaviors. It could never happen.
You’ll have to excuse me now, I have an emergency. I just saw the Taco Bell sign and I need a burrito.