Machine controls human – next step an app to define yourself

EnteroMedics Inc has announced FDA Approval of its new obesity treatment. Probably one of many fat busting procedures and drugs approved in the last few years – so what’s so special about this one? Well, its an electronic device that gets implanted in the body and then disrupts the signal between the stomach and the brain by overriding the vagus nerve.

This may be a relatively simple application but think about what this really means. The patient is consciously choosing, in advance, that a machine should control his or her nervous system – in this case hunger – that then affects one’s behaviour. Now look forward a few generations of this type of device – making them smaller, cheaper and more powerful – able to control a greater number of, and more complex, behaviours and potentially even one’s personality. EnteroMedics’ Maestro System is already wirelessly programmable so it doesn’t take much imagination to envisage an app that allows you to set your desired characteristics – obesity, energy and addiction levels, and maybe sexual desire – which then controls the body’s endocrine system to achieve the desired behaviour.

PS what if you want to behave somewhat unsavouryly, for example ramping up your cravings and addictions?  Will the government allow it, or will there will regulations to limit how you control yourself in the same way as there are restrictions on recreational drugs that temporarily change personality?

Six of the best from Ray’s newsletter

Ray Kurzweil’s Accelerating Intelligence newsletter was packed full of developments that could really impact the ability of people to live forever – I admit that sometimes there are a few general science padding items in the newsletter but not this week, so here are 6 of the best – I wish I had time to properly consider and blog about each one.

Nanorods found better than spherical nanoparticles for targeted drug delivery

Lifespan-extending drug given late in life reverses age-related heart disease in mice

Nanofiber sensor instantly detects diabetes or lung cancer in breath

Turning human spare parts into exports

A simple, non-invasive gene therapy restores sight

How to quickly generate a large quantity of personalized nerve cells