It's an Orwellian nightmare come true! Kinda.
We've talked about DARPA (the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) before. Usually it's with regard to real-life Transformers and their aiding the inevitable Skynet apocalypse. You know, the small stuff! But this time they're up to something that is much smaller, but in other ways much, much larger.
They want to shove foreign objects into your head meats and see what happens. For science. Basically, DARPA has enacted two sizable contracts with Massachusetts General Hospital and the University of California, San Francisco, so they can, in turn, make electrical brain implants. The utimate goal is to help treat severe psychiatric conditions, including the biggies, addiction and depression.
Here have an overly optimistic quote from researcher Jose Carmena, who is involved in the project:
Imagine if I have an addiction to alcohol and I have a craving. We could detect that feeling and then stimulate inside the brain to stop it from happening.
Sure, on the face of it, that sounds pretty benign. Heck, it actually sounds like it could be hugely beneficial. After all, we have artificial pacemakers that do essentially the same thing, but for the heart instead of the brain, right?
And maybe it'll be a resounding success. But here's my reservation -- the brain is complex. And for "complex" please read "We don't actually know very much about it." The heart? Sure, that's a fundamentally basic muscle, so pacemakers are kind of a, if you'll pardon the pun, no-brainer.
Is it actually an Orwellian, Big Brother, evil government conspiracy? Nah. Even though the fact that the devices will be controlled remotely is pretty hinky, the whole point of the study is actually to help soldiers who return from combat with PTSD, depression and a mess of other psychological problems that are brought on by witnessing the countless deaths of both enemy and comrade.
So DARPA's heart's in the right place, it's just that messing with the human brain is, well, extremely risky. On the plus side, there is an ethics panel overseeing the entire study. Fingers crossed, they will do their due diligence.