This Device Brings ‘Brave New World’ to Life

If you could have a device implanted in your brain that could bring instant nirvana at the press of a button, would you want it? Daily Beast says it’s coming and has neuroethicists in a bind:

Last week, a team of researchers developed a new implant that has the ability to wirelessly deliver drugs directly into the brain with the press of a button, like changing the channel on a TV.

BRAINADE! the Brain Grenade by Emilio Garcia

No wider than a strand of human hair, the device combines brain implants with a remote control drug delivery system. With the ability to genetically modify individual neurons, the implant inevitably calls up dystopian fictions from the likes of Vonnegut’s Harry Bergeron or Huxley’s Brave New World.

To demonstrate the amount of control this device is capable of, investigators made mice walk in circles by injecting a morphine-like drug directly into their ventral tegmental area (VTA), a brain region responsible for motivation and reward.

With rapid technological advancements that tinker with the most complex organic structure in the known universe, serious moral and ethical questions are bound to arise. That’s where neuroethicists come in.

The Daily Beast reached out to several leading thinkers in the field of neuroethics to get their opinions on this astonishing (yet creepy-sounding) device.

One neuroethicist, Dr. Peter Reiner, told The Daily Beast that this newest advancement is “is no different than previous work that used electrodes or injections of substances into the brain (of animals), but does so with considerably greater finesse.” He called this latest development a “technical tour de force.”

However, Dr. Frederic Gilbert, a researcher in bioethics at the Australian Research Council, errs on the side of caution. In an email, he wrote, “As in many fields, the ethical questions are often raised too late in the development of novel technologies; optogenetics is no stranger to this.”…