Science vs. Ethics: Researchers Remotely Control a Human

In a bit of whiz-bang science that may go down in history with the infamous “putting the criminal’s brain in the monster robot’s body” trick, University of Washington researchers have just demonstrated the ability to control a human being’s actions remotely.

I know some of you think that such technology already exists and is used to control the puppet in the Oval Office, but this is apparently the first time such technology has been publicly admitted.

Using Skype and a type of magnetic stimulation, researcher Rajesh Rao was able to send a signal across the university campus and control the motion of guinea pig Andrea Stocco.

According to observers, Rao was able to play a simple video game on his own screen with his mind and, without actually moving, cause Stocco’s hand to fire a simulated cannon by pressing buttons on a keyboard.

Stocco, who wore noise-cancelling headphones and wasn’t allowed to look at a screen, described the feeling of having his hand taken over as similar to a nervous tic.

The military and government agencies have been working on this sort of stuff for years, of course, applying it to airplane and robot controls. The technology used in the recent experiment is not that different from the sort of brainwave-activated toys that were popular for Christmas a few years ago.

The potential for abuse is enormous. The device used in the University of Washington experiment relied upon a magnetic coil being positioned on the guinea pig’s skull. But in theory it wouldn’t take much to create a device that could work without contact, possibly even at long range.

This could prove to be yet another foundational technology that will eventually find its way into the Singularity, the combination Matrix-slash-Terminator, nightmare-come-true plan to plug humans into a computerized hive mind, a la the Borg.

If you think that’s not coming, tell it to Time magazine, which devoted a cover story to it, or to any of the dozens of other mainstream magazines that have gushed over the possibility of having human minds “transferred” into robotic bodies and leaving the human bodies “unoccupied,” as it were.

The “sanitizing” of the human race, by the way, has a deadline: the year 2045.

Skynet, it appears, is winning.