We open our eyes and we think we’re seeing the whole world out there. But what has become clear—and really just in the last few centuries—is that when you look at the electro-magnetic spectrum we are seeing less than 1/10 Billionth of the information that’s riding on there. So we call that visible light. But everything else passing through our bodies is completely invisible to us.
It may seem premature to think about regulating certain bio/neuroscience applications that few in the field fully support at this time. This is especially true in the areas of fMRI lie detection and memory erasing, which host issues of reliability and ethics, respectively. In any case, what is over-due is some sort or eclectic round-table or advisory committee representing various disciplines that might like to organize in order to discuss where the bar ought to be set for acceptable standards of these techniques prior to a formal government agency full of policy makers taking the reins.
Henry Greely, director of the Stanford Law School Center for Law & Bioethics would like to see:
… a government approach to at least some of the new brain technology, something along the lines of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which approves new drugs before they can be released to market. Brain imaging lie detectors and pain detectors are two advances he’d put into that category. [via]
Naturally. But an FDA-like administration to discern appropriateness of legal evidence? I feel all kinds of Hmmmmmm thinking about that. Moving on to erasing painful memories:
As for Propranolol, Greely anticipates a few cases where witnesses whose memories have been dulled, erased or changed by the drug will make it to court. Prosecutors might claim that providing a rape victim with the drug constitutes tampering with a witness, and that widespread use might make it impossible for them to send rapists to prison. (…) Some hospital emergency departments in clinical trials are asking women brought to the hospital after sexual assaults if they want their memories dampened by Propranolol as a means of avoiding PTSD.
And it may mess with eye witness identification, which is already unreliable. So what’s more important: alleviation of possible long-term psychological trauma or prosecution of the offender?
“The research isn’t stopping, it’s accelerating,” he says. “The knowledge is coming incredibly fast, and not enough people are thinking about this.” [via]