TED Conversations

John Snow

This conversation is closed.

Ethics of memory manipulation and the plausibility of the technology.

Since our body is capable of learning and mastering skills is it logical to say that a change occured in our body? Is it reasonable to assume that there was a change in your mind that is responsable for this? In a lot of movies (The matrix, Inception) memory "implants" are depicted where a person can instantly learn something. In the past many inventions were first depicted in works of fiction.
If technology were able to manipulate the way the human mind learns and stores information would we be able to instantly know everything? How would this change society? Would life suddenly become a lot less valuable? Would life be more or less interesting? How would we judge anyones usefulness when compared to another? Could the world function if this technology were real? Do you think that this technology is able to be invented?

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    Oct 1 2011: Some researchers are working with combat veterans, car-accident survivors and rape victims to replace their memories with less fear-filled ones using a familiar hypertension drug. We all know of the effects of rohypnol and most drugs that are given as anesthetics routinely cause you to forget even the parts of the surgery you were lucid for.

    I would certainly accept the use of voluntary memory alteration in cases of trauma and I think that no one should be able to interfere with that choice to reduce suffering except the person in question.

    Like Krisztian, I sure would love to speak Mandarin and I do not believe that I have sufficient time to master it so that I would be fully conversant so I might opt for this too.
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    Sep 30 2011: without my consent, nobody touches my memory

    with my consent, i see no ethical problems at all. nor any other problems, for that matter. i can't wait for that to happen.

    (note: i don't have the endurance to learn mandarin in this life. but i'm willing to pay a large sum to get this knowledge the easy way.)
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      Oct 1 2011: So what happens when you apply for a job and everyone has the same credentials? I feel like it would be like using cheat codes in a video game; the game wouldn't be worth playing anymore because all challenge is gone.