Mind Control in the 21st Century - Science Fiction & Beyond
By Steven DiBasio
"Mind control" is a topic commonly perceived as "conspiracy theory" or "X-Files" fare. That is, it is seen as possibly not "real," and certainly not something about which one should be "overly" concerned. This attitude at least partially arises from the widespread belief or assumption that the human brain is so complicated-("the most complex entity in the universe" is a common formulation)-that it has not, and perhaps cannot, be comprehended in any depth.
One writer, for example, describes the brain as of "perhaps infinite" complexity, while another, David Brooks of the New York Times, writes that it is "probably impossible" that "a map of brain activity" could reveal mental states such as emotions and desires. Similarly, Andrew Sullivan, blogger and former editor of The New Republic, opines that neuroscience is still in its "infancy," and that we have only begun "scratching the surface" of the human brain, and links to a New Yorker piece in support of that position.
And the cover story for the October 2004 issue of Discovery Magazine entitled "The Myth Of Mind Control" advises the reader that while mind control is a "familiar science-fiction" staple, there is little reason for real concern, because actually deciphering the "neural code" would be akin to figuring out other "great scientific mysteries" such as the "origin of the universe and of life on Earth," and is therefore hardly likely. According to the article, as the brain is "the most significant mystery in science" and quite possibly "the hardest to solve," mind control remains at worst a distant concern.
The underlying idea seems to be that sophisticated mind control is unlikely without understanding the brain; and we do not understand the brain.
Understanding the "Neural Code"
Of course, one might question the notion that a full understanding of the "neural code" is a prerequisite for mind control since it is not always necessary to know how something works for it to be effective. Nonetheless, the assumption that the brain is so complex that little progress has been made in "solving" it is itself incorrect.
As neuroscientist Michael Persinger has said, the "great mythology" of the brain is that it is "beyond our understanding; no it's not." In fact, according to inventor and "futurist" Ray Kurzweil, "very detailed mathematical models of several dozen regions of the human brain and how they work...." had already been developed over a decade ago. Kurzweil also said at that time that science is "further along in understanding the principles of operation of the human brain than most people realize...." While the brain may be complicated, "it's not that complicated (emphasis added)."
Similarly, an Air Force report from 1995, in a section entitled "Biological Process Control," predicts that before 2050 "... [w]e will have achieved a clear understanding of how the human brain works, how it really controls the various functions of the body, and how it can be manipulated...:"
One can envision the development of electromagnetic energy sources ... that can couple with the human body in a fashion that will allow one to prevent voluntary muscular movements, control emotions (and thus actions), produce sleep, transmit suggestions, interfere with ... memory, produce an experience set, and delete an experience set.
As disturbing as such "predictions" may be, is it possible that technologies to prevent (or perhaps even impel) muscular movement, control emotions, transmit suggestions, delete memories, create false memories, and so on, have already been developed?
Certainly, even a cursory review of the "open literature" reveals that various sophisticated mind control technologies already exist. Indeed, it is rather shocking to realize how advanced mind control technology was, even several decades ago.
For example, there is the 1974 invention of Robert G. Malech for which a patent was granted in 1976 and assigned to defense contractor Dorne & Margolin, Inc.-for a method of "remotely monitoring and altering brain waves." Moreover, experiments conducted over thirty years ago at the Stanford Research Institute (SRI) showed that basic mind reading from EEG readouts was possible, revealing the existence of "a non-symbolic language" of "brain-wave patterns" which could be deciphered and translated.
Indeed, "...[b]y the late 1960s ... 'remote control' of the human brain-accomplished without the implantation of electrodes-was well on its way to being realized." A means of stimulating a brain "by creating an electrical field completely outside the head" was developed, and it was discovered that electric pulses could stimulate the brain using far less energy than previously "thought ... effectual in the old implanting technique." Not surprisingly, with such developments arose legitimate fears of a future world where "human robots" would perform the bidding of the "military."
And one source quotes a 1970s Pentagon agency report as saying that it will likely be possible in "several years" to induce sounds and words directly into the brain (bypassing the ears), as well as to use "combinations of frequencies and other signal characteristics to produce other neurological effects....," The report notes that the Soviets had observed "various changes in body chemistry" and "functioning" of the brain from the exposure of the brain to various frequencies. Also mentioned are studies at MIT showing that "magnetic brain waves can be picked up ... and amplified as if the brain were a radio transmitter," no implants or electrodes required.
Finally, an article from 1981 describes how "microwave generators" placed in appropriate locations and transmitting at low energy would create "interference patterns" out of the interaction with brainwaves (brain electricity). These interference patterns "could then be built up by computer into a three-dimensional moving picture of mental processes"-in other words, a remote "thought scanner" (and tracking device) could be developed.
In light of these past developments, it is perhaps rather surprising to read modern articles describing supposedly recent innovations in "mind reading" and mind control technology - in which it is sometimes claimed, for example, that scanners, electrodes and proximity to the subject is required to read and "control" minds. Such claims reflect an apparent failure of the science of "mind control" to progress as one might have expected considering the presumed interest, as well as the spectacular rate of advancement of science and technology in general in recent decades.
Of course, it would not be all that surprising if mind control technology has advanced considerably, but that research has been carried out in secret for reasons of "national security." CIA affiliated scientists have certainly conducted much research which they have been prohibited from sharing with their peers, and inventions that implicate "national security" are routinely suppressed under Pentagon secrecy orders. Also, it might seem desirable to hide research programs which sometimes "require" relaxation of ethical standards, such as that of informed consent.
That said, even ignoring the likely existence of a "secret science" of mind control, recent public advancements are quite troubling in their own right.
In 2004, 25,000 rat neurons on a glass dish learned to fly an F-22 jet fighter simulator. After scientists placed the neurons on the dish, the neurons quickly began "to reconnect themselves, forming a living neural network-a brain." The lead scientist added that "one day," though of course a "long way off," disembodied brains might actually be used to fly drones, though the current experiment was merely to enhance knowledge of how the brain works, and possibly provide "clues to brain dysfunction."
In August 2013, researchers revealed that "miniature" human brains had been grown in the laboratory. As is typical, any negative implications or reasons for worry were minimized, while possible "therapeutic" uses were highlighted. Thus, the breakthrough was hailed as a great opportunity to understand "developmental defects." Though the writer does mention "the spectre of what the future might hold," the reader is reassured that the research is "primitive territory"-though one researcher did comment on the "undesirability" of growing larger laboratory brains.
On July 1, 2013, a magazine reported a claim by neuroscientist Sergio Canavero that it was now feasible to transplant the head of one human to the body of another and reattach the spinal cord.
Scientists have reconstructed random images viewed by subjects, from fMRI brain scans, in research that "hints" that "one day" scientists might be able to "access dreams, memories and imagery...."
The brains of two rats have been linked, such that one, located in North Carolina, responded "telepathically" to the thoughts of the other, located in Brazil. The second rat's brain processed signals from the first rat's brain, delivered over the internet, as if they were its own. The scientist speculated about the "future possibility" of a "biological computer, in which numerous brains are connected...."
A brain-to-brain interface has been created, allowing humans to move a rat's tail just by thinking about it. Readers are told that while it is not yet possible to "communicate brain to brain with our fellow humans ... we may be on our way to ... controlling" other species. But, since it is "still very early days" the writer "hope(s)" that any ethical concerns can be "iron(ed) out." Of note, the study used focused ultrasound to deliver impulses to the rat's brain.
Continuing the ultrasound "theme": Focused pulses of low intensity low frequency ultrasound, transmitted noninvasively through the skull to the human brain, have been shown capable of producing, not only pain, but also sound, as well as evoking "sensory stimuli." Accordingly, a lab with a "close working relationship" with DARPA, the Department of Defense, and U.S. Intelligence communities, has been looking into using pulsed ultrasound to encode "sensory data onto the cortex"; in other words, producing hallucinations through the remote and direct stimulation of brain circuits. Possibilities are the ability to "remotely control brain activity" and the "creation of artificial memories." Even Sony has gotten in on the act, patenting a device for using ultrasound to produce hallucinations-again described as "transmitting sensory data directly into the human brain." Most troublingly, one source recently alleged that the NSA is using this ultrasound technology to target individuals through their smartphones.
A researcher was able to make a fellow researcher in a different office move his finger just by thinking about it, in the "first" demonstration of a human brain-to-brain interface.
A low cost means of tracking people, even through walls, has been developed. While in the past individuals could be tracked anywhere by the "military" using radar technology, this technology might enable entities with fewer resources to track people as well.
Scientists have remote controlled a worm by implanting magnetic nanoparticles into it, and then exposing the animal to a "radiofrequency magnetic field" which stimulated its neurons. The scientists suggest that their research could lead to "innovative cancer treatments" and "improved diabetes therapies," as well as "new therapies for some neurological disorders which result from insufficient neuro-stimulation."
Americans can now be spied on in their homes through their internet-connected appliances, according to (former) CIA Director David Petraeus. Petraeus made his statements at about the same time a huge microchip company, ARM, unveiled new processors which will connect home appliances such as refrigerators, washers and driers to the internet.
LED lights have been ostensibly pushed for their efficiency over traditional bulbs. However, LED lights are also semiconductors capable of inducing "biological and behavior effects."
While the aforementioned public developments are quite concerning, the reality is they may not actually represent the true state of the art in "mind control" technology. It would not be that surprising, after all, for a domain with national security implications to at some point in its development branch off onto separate "tracks," one public and the other "hidden." If such a bifurcation were to occur, advancements made in secret would not necessarily be incorporated into the public sphere. Eventually perhaps, innovations and breakthroughs would result in the development of an essentially new, covert science.
An example of a domain in which this bifurcation process seems to have occurred is aviation. In the public sphere, the most advanced aircraft might well be the F-22 fighter jet, or perhaps the F-35. However, if insider testimony is credited, these aircraft seem almost primitive in comparison with flying machines developed in secret.
Perhaps the most compelling statements in this regard come from Ben Rich, former Director of Lockheed-Martin's Advanced Development Projects, or "Skunk Works," a Lockheed division notable for its super high-tech, top secret projects, among them the U2 spy plane and the SR-71 Blackbird.
As Joseph P. Farrell reports in his book Saucers, Swastikas, and Psyops, Rich made a number of peculiar and provocative comments at the end of his career, and following his retirement on December 31, 1990 (prior to his death five years later), comments strongly hinting at "the development of ... an off-the-books physics and technology...."
For example, on September 7, 1988, in a presentation to the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics in Atlanta, Georgia, Rich lamented that he was prohibited from discussing Skunkwork's current projects, but he did say that they "call for technologies once only dreamed of by science fiction writers."
In ensuing years, Rich elaborated slightly. For instance, while speaking to the UCLA School of Engineering Alumni Association in 1993, Rich said that "an error in the equations" had been discovered and corrected, making it possible "to travel to the stars." He added, however, that "these technologies are so locked up in black programs, that it would take an act of God to ever get them out to benefit humanity."
Farrell goes on to relay a statement from an unnamed Lockheed retired engineer who was quoted in a magazine article in 1988 as saying that "we have things flying in the Nevada desert that would make George Lucas drool." In the same article an Air Force officer involved in the development of the SR-71 said "[w]e are testing vehicles that defy description. To compare them conceptually to the SR-71 would be like comparing Leonardo da Vinci's parachute design to the space shuttle." And a retired Colonel chimed in: "We have things that are so far beyond the comprehension of the average aviation authority as to be really alien to our way of thinking."
Consider then for a moment the possibility that within the classified world, in 1993, a technology, to quote Ben Rich, "to take ET back home" had already been developed. The implications are enormous, not to mention rather frightening. One wonders where the technology must be in 2014, more than twenty years later.
And if the aforementioned statements are true, and this seems plausible (why would these individuals lie, or even exaggerate, especially to Engineering Associations and Aeronautics institutes), what might this imply about the current state of the art in domains other than aviation, such as neuroscience, which has itself been the subject of intense "weaponization" efforts.
Indeed, what does such a vast discrepancy between what people believe and what is actually true suggest about the nature of our perceived reality in general?
The author can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org