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Thread: The six million dollar question

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    The six million dollar question

    News > Science
    The six million dollar question
    Like Steve Austin in the 1970s sci-fi show, it is now possible to implant microchips into the body to control everything from weapons to wheelchairs. But is it the start of a sinister new era in science?

    Jeremy Laurance

    Jeremy Laurance
    Jeremy Laurance is Health Editor at The Independent

    More articles from this journalist
    Follow Jeremy Laurance
    Thursday 01 March 2012

    Forty years ago, the first bionic human featured in the hit US TV science-fiction series The Six Million Dollar Man. Today, he has become science fact. New technologies that "intervene" in the brain, building superhuman capabilities and enabling users to operate weapons or wheelchairs with the power of thought alone, are on the market or under development.

    Click HERE to view graphic

    Electrodes implanted deep in patient's brains have been shown to stabilise the shaky movements of Parkinson's disease and "creativity caps" that deliver magnetic pulses to the head are in use to boost memory and mathematical ability.

    Scientists have demonstrated how a person in New York with a device implanted in their nervous system can control a robotic arm in the UK, moving it around and sensing the position of objects just by thinking about it.

    But the rapid advance of the research is raising concerns that meddling with the brain could change people's personalities, create bionic supermen for military applications or be used to control minds with disturbing implications for society.

    Today the Nuffield Council for Bioethics launches a consultation on the ethics of the new technolgies, the global market for which it says is worth $8bn and "growing fast."


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    This is just the area that raises serious ethical questions, unlike the total misrepresentation that has bedeviled stem cell research.
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