Feeds

Quacks probe brain-boosting tech ethics

Soma time?

Application security programs and practises

UK doctors have launched an investigation into the ethics of new drug and surgical technologies aimed at improving brain function.

The British Medical Association's ethics committee has produced a paper entitled "Boosting Your Brainpower: Ethical Aspects of Cognitive Enhancements" in a bid to kick off a debate on noggin turbo-charging.

The docs note that many already take omega-3 oils in the belief fish innards have the power to improve cognition. They reckon it'll only be a matter of time before we're sticking magnets to our heads, popping Ritalin-style concentration drugs and even letting sawbones crack open our bonces to give us a "brain lift" by shoving targeted electrical probes into the grey matter.

"It should be remembered that people are willing to endure major surgery to enhance their visual appearance, so they may be willing to do so to improve their cognitive ability as well, if the techniques prove to be effective," the BMA said in a statement.

Chairman of the committee Dr Tony Calland said: "We know that there is likely to be a demand by healthy individuals for this 'treatment'. However, given that no drug or invasive medical procedure is risk-free, is it ethical to make them available to people who are not ill?

"Also, how much brain power is enough? There is a concern that there may be undue pressure, perhaps from employers, to ensure that workers are even more effective and productive*."

Chemical coconut-enhancement is nothing new in the workplace of course. We've been known to be found slumped at our desk twitching by 11am if we don't get our caffeine fix. Soldiers on both sides during World War Two were given amphetamines, and Hitler himself is thought to have been given a daily meth shot by his doctor to perk him up as the Reich crumbled. And they don't call cocaine "Bolivian marching powder" for nothing.

The BMA may tapped into a real modern neurosis, however. Dr Kawashima's Brain Training games for the Nintendo DS, as advertised by noted genius Nicole Kidman, have been a huge hit in the UK.

Top ethics eggheads will discuss the rights and wrongs of a new era of tweaking the braintanglia at a public debate at the Royal Institution in London on November 14. ®

*After extensive employer-forced testing of Dr Artois' brain tonic at Vulture central, considered dangerous by some in the medical professions, we can confirm that it tunes our puny minds to be both wittier and better at darts.

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
Asteroid's DINO KILLING SPREE just bad luck – boffins
Sauricide WASN'T inevitable, reckon scientists
BEST BATTERY EVER: All lithium, all the time, plus a dash of carbon nano-stuff
We have found the Holy Grail (of batteries) - boffins
The Sun took a day off last week and made NO sunspots
Someone needs to get that lazy star cooking again before things get cold around here
Boffins discuss AI space program at hush-hush IARPA confab
IBM, MIT, plenty of others invited to fill Uncle Sam's spy toolchest, but where's Google?
Famous 'Dish' radio telescope to be emptied in budget crisis: CSIRO
Radio astronomy suffering to protect Square Kilometre Array
Bad back? Show some spine and stop popping paracetamol
Study finds common pain-killer doesn't reduce pain or shorten recovery
Forty-five years ago: FOOTPRINTS FOUND ON MOON
NASA won't be back any time soon, sadly
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable
Learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.