Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The modern world: when the coolest new discovery scares the hell out of me...

This from Science Daily:

ScienceDaily (Feb. 11, 2009) — Researchers at Canada's largest children's rehabilitation hospital have developed a technique that uses infrared light brain imaging to decode preference – with the goal of ultimately opening the world of choice to children who can't speak or move.

In a study published this month in The Journal of Neural Engineering, Bloorview scientists demonstrate the ability to decode a person's preference for one of two drinks with 80 per cent accuracy by measuring the intensity of near-infrared light absorbed in brain tissue.

"This is the first system that decodes preference naturally from spontaneous thoughts," says Sheena Luu, the University of Toronto PhD student in biomedical engineering who led the study under the supervision of Tom Chau, Canada Research Chair in pediatric rehab engineering.

I want this for brain-damaged children. I want this for paralyzed people. I want this to work out in the worst way.

But why is it that all I can think about when I think about this new technology is what some government agent (whether from our government or somewhere else) could do with it at Girmo (or any hellhole in the world)?

This is the world we live in ... wherein you have to think, almost instantly, of the evil we could do with new inventions rather than the good.

Maybe it's just me. I really hope so.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Steve-You have every right to be scared. I have watched over the last 4 decades well-intentioned assistive devices/interventions morph into extreme overusage, and misapplied modality of service to our citizens. Most of these have to do with end of life issues. A partial list includes: the ventilator--originally designed to resuscitate young drowning victims--the acknowledgement that a young, viable person can be rescued and returned to a full, productive life. Organ transplants--again, for the acute episode of organ failure in young/mid adulthood, with the relative assurance of return to full, productive engagement. There was a time when a patient wasn't admitted to an intensive care unit after age 65. I am by no means saying the current threshold be 65, but ask any health care provider, the hospitals are turning into nursing homes, and the nursing homes are turning into hospitals and rehab centers. We as a nation really need to examine chemo being started on 90 year olds, who are already bedridden and confined, and organs being allocated to 75+, as a repeat procedure. Tough outcomes, expensive financially and resourcefully for some well intended purposes. Almost forgot my favorite, cryogenics. Woman had husband's sperm banked when he became ill. He subsequently died. A time later decides to go forth and induce pregnancy, post his demise. She wants and is suing for Social Security for the child. And then there's our Constitution, and Bill of Rights. Yea, it's scary.