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?