Feeds

Quacks probe brain-boosting tech ethics

Soma time?

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup

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
Boffins ID freakish spine-smothered prehistoric critter: The CLAW gave it away
Bizarre-looking creature actually related to velvet worms
ANU boffins demo 'tractor beam' in water
The current state of the art, apparently
China to test recoverable moon orbiter
I'll have some rocks and a moon cheese pizza please, home delivery
NASA's rock'n'roll shock: ROLLING STONE FOUND ON MARS
No sign of Ziggy Stardust and his band
What does a flashmob of 1,024 robots look like? Just like this
Sorry, Harvard, did you say kilobots or KILLER BOTS?
Why your mum was WRONG about whiffy tattooed people
They're a future source of RENEWABLE ENERGY
Vulture 2 spaceplane autopilot brain surgery a total success
LOHAN slips into some sexy bespoke mission parameters
Another step forward for diamond-based quantum computers
Square cut or pear-shaped, these qubits don't lose their shape
LOHAN acquires aircraft arboreal avoidance algorithm acronyms
Is that an ARMADILLO in your PANTS or are you just pleased to see me?
prev story

Whitepapers

Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
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.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Solving today's distributed Big Data backup challenges
Enable IT efficiency and allow a firm to access and reuse corporate information for competitive advantage, ultimately changing business outcomes.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.