About this author
Zack Lynch is author of The Neuro Revolution: How Brain Science Is Changing Our World (St. Martin's Press, July 2009).
He is the founder and executive director of the Neurotechnology Industry Organization (NIO) and co-founder of NeuroInsights. He serves on the advisory boards of the McGovern Institute for Brain Research at MIT, the Center for Neuroeconomic Studies, Science Progress, and SocialText, a social software company. Please send newsworthy items or feedback - to Zack Lynch.
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December 12, 2003

Protecting Your Freedom of Thought

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Posted by Zack Lynch

I recently joined the board of advisors of the Center for Cognitive Liberty and Ethics. I follow neuroethics and neuropolicy issues very closely, and I am honored to be associated with the most forward thinking independent neuroethics organization around.

Over the next few months, two major movies will be focusing on memory erasing technologies.

1. PayCheck: Remembering the Future stars Ben Affleck and Uma Thurman. "Paycheck" was adapted for the screen from a novel by Phillip K. Dick, who is also the source writer behind such films as "Blade Runner" and "Minority Report." In the film, Affleck plays a reverse engineer who is hired for large sums of money to dismantle machinery and rebuild it for improvement. The only catch is that he has his memory erased of any work he has done after the fact.

2. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, stars Kate Winslet and Jim Carrey want to have their bad memories erased in a more light hearted romantic comedy.

I am sure the actors and producers would be very interested in CCLE's work. Should you have access to them through your network please let them know about CCLE's real life fight to protect their cognitive liberty.

Now in their fourth year, they have many accomplishments, including arguing for freedom of thought in the U.S. Supreme Court. Please help them protect your cognitive liberty.

Here are some of the issues they are working on right now:


* Your child were compelled to take Ritalin in order to attend public school?
* You were accused of a crime, but forced to take drugs while on trial?
* You were arrested and forced to take a truth serum, or were brain-fingerprinted?
* A medicine that safely improves memory was available, but you were prohibited from using it?

Freedom of thought is at a critical crossroads. Policy makers and judges are making important decisions now that set alarming precedent for the future of freedom of thought. Without freedom of thought, there can be no free society.

Comments (2) | Category: Neuroethics


1. Carole Smith on December 15, 2003 5:17 AM writes...

Dear Zack, I am pleased to hear that you have joined the Centre for Cognitive Liberty and Ethics. I wish to stress that in the midst of celebration of neuroscience technology, that the capability to enter the mind and loot the contents of it, is not science-fiction, but actuality.
We have indeed entered an era where the sovereignty of the mind has been defiled. There is a parallel with the exploitation and slavery of 19th century colonialism. and the present corporate looting of Iraq.
Unless public protest results in new legislation to ban experimentation on non-consensual mind-invasive technology, there will be, and already is, the use of this technology by unscrupulous profiteers and opportunists for whom the existing laws protecting intellectual property is absolutely impotent. The policy of secrecy in the name of state security enables the rich and corrupt 'elite' to practise intellectual theft, not to mention 'neuronal enhancement' by accessing a subject's brain frequency and literally plugging in to it to appropriate it for their own. It is like taking candy from a baby - if you can get your hands on the equipment. The unlucky subject's brain accessing codes can more than likely be programmed into a satellite phone and the subject's brain power dialled up when required. With an accurately programmed system, there is also the practice of sexual enhancement by the same procedure - the use of subjects to enhance sexual performance, like an aphrodisiac or drug - virtual sexual slavery.
If you are able to maintain this page open to reports of such inhumane abuse, you will be making an invaluable contribution to defending individual rights and freedom.

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2. Wrye Sententia on December 18, 2003 11:17 AM writes...

Here's a press release about the controversy of memory erasure:

Paycheck Movie Raises Important Issues:Memory Erasing, Coming Soon Says Cognitive Liberty Group

Davis, CA, 17 Dec 2003 - What if you could take a pill that would safely erase unwanted memories?

Experts at the Center for Cognitive Liberty and Ethics (CCLE) say that memory-erasing drugs are on the way, and they question whether the legal
system is prepared to deal with the changes such drugs will bring.

Memory erasing is about to go mainstream with the new movie Paycheck-starring Ben Afflek and Uma Thurman-set to open in theaters nationwide on December 25. In the movie, Ben Afflek plays an engineer whose memory is erased to ensure that he won't divulge trade secret information to
competitors. The new Paramount Pictures release is bound to generate public discussion about the ethics and legality of memory-altering technologies.

"Drugs that substantially dim memories are already in use," says Wrye Sententia, Director of the CCLE, a nonprofit law and policy center that
protects freedom of thought. Ms. Sententia notes that emergency rescue workers - for example those sent to clean up after a plane crash - commonly
take a drug that helps reduce their memories of the gruesome scene. Drugs like these may soon be used be used in emergency rooms to dim memories that might later trouble victims of serious accidents or violent crimes.

In an August edition of Science magazine, Mark Eisenberg et al. published new findings indicating the possibility of developing a drug that selectively dumps or dims memories of incidents that may have occurred as far back as early childhood.

According to Richard Glen Boire, Legal Counsel for the CCLE, drugs or technologies that reduce or erase memory raise new legal dilemmas that
society should be preparing for now. "Just like the printing press and the Internet changed the parameters of free speech, memory erasing drugs and other neuropharmaceuticals currently under development are going to change the parameters of freedom of thought," notes Boire. He questions whether current Constitutional interpretations will sufficiently address the neuroethical implications of such technologies.

The Center for Cognitive Liberty & Ethics (CCLE) is a collaborative effort by a multi-disciplinary group of experts working to protect the future of
freedom of thought. The group believes that freedom of thought will be the next big civil rights issue, and hopes that the movie Paycheck will initiate public awareness about freedom of thought issues.

Will you have a right to erase your own memories? Will your employers? Will memory-erasing drugs be prohibited, and consequently sold by street dealers rather than pharmacies? Can your employer condition your hiring or firing based on whether or not you're willing to take a memory-erasing drug?

"These are the sorts of new legal issues that we will be dealing with in our lifetime," says Boire. The rules we create today regarding our cognitive liberty will define the future of freedom of thought."

Center for Cognitive Liberty & Ethics: Keeping Freedom in Mind
-- Richard Glen Boire, Legal Counsel
-- Wrye Sententia, Director

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