US Military Testing Mind-Control Chips on Soldiers' Brains to Alter Their Moods

Wednesday, 29 November 2017 - 10:16AM
Weird Science
Medical Tech
Wednesday, 29 November 2017 - 10:16AM
US Military Testing Mind-Control Chips on Soldiers' Brains to Alter Their Moods
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Image credit: Pixabay
Depression, PTSD, and anxiety attacks are all too common for soldiers in the line of duty. But what if we could change that as easily as flipping a switch?

The incredible emotional strain caused by life-or-death combat can leave long-lasting mental scars, but scientists working with the military have a new solution: They're currently testing mind-controlling chips implanted in the brains of human soldiers to help improve their moods, reports the Nature academic journal.

While fairly invasive, inserting the AI-controlled computer chips into soldiers' brains may provide relief to plenty of soldiers both past and present as they work through the challenges caused by their service. 

The implant works by stimulating the brain with electrical impulses, stimulating sluggish grey matter and encouraging positive mental processes. This is essentially the same technique for stimulation that's being tested for treatment of other, memory-related mental illnesses such as Alzheimer's—although at least one study involves a non-invasive "thinking cap" rather than a computer chip that needs to be medically inserted into the patient's brain.

Research into this particular treatment for depression and anxiety has been underway for a while already, but thus far, scientists have hit a brick wall.

The fact that the latest trial will involve human participants rather than lab rats suggests that a lot of progress has been made recently, which is possibly thanks to the use of artificial intelligence in being able to regulate the brain's health, and pinpoint the areas that require stimulation in order to encourage positive thinking.

Naturally, with the US army funding a chip to affect soldiers' brains, some commenters have begun referring to the implant as a "mind control" device. Some are no doubt weighing this up in comparison with mind-control soldier technology as seen in movies like Divergent.

As scary as it may sound, the implant doesn't allow the US military to spy on soldiers' thoughts, nor can it be used to actively promote ideology or behavior within a patient's brain. Instead, this simply helps with a soldier's mood, helping them to avoid falling into depression or other negative emotional states.

In many ways, this implant provides significant benefits over existing methods of treating depression.

Counseling and therapy can only do so much when, after a traumatic experience, a person's brain stops producing the necessary chemicals required to keep a person healthy.

While drugs exist that can help with the problem, they invariably come with a long list of side effects that can leave a patient feeling almost worse than if they weren't taking their medication at all.

An AI chip could potentially prove to be the perfect solution to this problem, helping to give the brain some friendly encouragement without creating new problems at the same time.

That said, there is still an inherent moral issue involved in forcing soldiers to be happy regardless of their circumstances.

Even though the chip can't force a person to comply with orders, it can nudge them towards feeling more positive and enthusiastic about a situation than they might normally.

If scientists are able to get this technology working, it'll be important for it to be carefully regulated so that positive mental activity doesn't begin to cloud the judgement of soldiers who need to make critical decisions to the point where they start making foolhardy or reckless decisions in the face of danger.

These important ethical considerations aside, the technology that these scientists are working on could genuinely help thousands of veterans around the world who face genuine mental pain and anguish as a result of their time with the military.

Here's hoping the secrets to treating depression can be found, and that the world doesn't get too unduly concerned about a brain control robot chip that the military wants to put into soldiers in order to electrocute their brains until they feel happy.
Weird Science
Medical Tech
US Military Testing Mind-Control Chips on Soldiers to Alter Their Moods