Re: Hacking your own motivational and emotional systems, how dangerous?

From: Dagon Gmail (
Date: Sat Oct 27 2007 - 06:35:59 MDT

I have thought about this concept a lot, in a non-scientific, fictional sort
of way, and
even collated some ideas for a book I was thinking about. What I have found,
in my
meanderings was that this path is riddled with traps. Like a timetraveller
making too
many timestream steps it would be very hard to find back the basic setting -
plus the
default human mode would be downright unbearable, so there would be no going

back at all once you start tinkering.

It depends largely on how easy, how well-tested the technology, how
insighful the
alterations are. If it involves unintuitive modifications of brain chemicals
and hardwiring
the results will probably be like wandering a minefield or hacking a Chinese
without a dictionary.

The biggest traps i see would be
- alienation (becoming so strange that interaction with default society
would be difficult,
annoying, undesirable, etc.)
- wirehead (making a change that creates a feedback loop destroying the
system, trapping the subject in an inescapable pleasure feedback loop)
- system crash (making a change that cascades into causal effects that
cannot be
unraveled, easily edited back, or "cured".)

Mind hacking the motivational structure of the brain is however something
that looks
unavoidable, looking at the course we have set as a species. At some point,
within decades, we will develop tools that have the fine resolution to make
and no matter how crude the first alterations some people will apply them.
The first such
alterations have been applied already, almost industrially crude stimulation
of the
pleasure center to treat migraines, depressions or motion system disorders
and the
results of that look real good from what I've heard. In some cases you dont
even have
to open the skull to apply these early hacks.

I can envision technology emerging somewhere after 2025, 2035 where minute
nanoids can be made to erect a hacking lattice inside the brain itself. That
is a very
simplistic analogy of what will happen, but I can envision a mixture of
nano-agents, in the hundredth of micrometers or smaller, very safely
selfreplication, very low on allergy triggering and steered or controlled on
a very small
coordinate grid. If you can disperse these things throughout the brain and
cause them
to surgically stimulate cells, edit cells or delete cells it *could* slowly
evolve into a
hacking mechanism that would allow "private citizens" (as opposed to
governments, universities) to selfhack, or selfadminister mods.

Societies will respond no doubt as allergic as ever to citizens entering
such an arena
of cognitive liberty. If these technologies start appearing, say, by 2030,
and society hasn't
evolved under effects of abundance, nanofactories, robotics,
Early/specialized AI as to
become more liberalized (higher unemployment, more wellfare, more time to
people want to self-educate, think freely, question established morality)
then society
will respond in ways we are accustomed to, such as the near-psychotic fear
narcotics. So garage-hacks should be quite beneficient, safe or (some)
states would
resort to locking up mindhackers in secure institutions as some states now
do (by the
millions) for using (or owning) cannabis.

No doubt the number of addicts to stimulation of the pleasure center, in one
form or
another, will be millions to tens of millions by 2040.

In fact, if there isn't a function life extension method after 2025 I will
certainly be looking
to apply a wirehead treatment, in order to extract the optimum of pleasure
from my
existence in the last remaining years I would be alive. I think by then
wireheading should
be commercialized, illegal or not.

But as far as I can see, insofar I have concluded the right things,
mindhacking of the
normal parts of the brain (without actual upgrading) will have massive,
stunning effects on
society and the (potential) productiveness of its members. And best of all
we can't even
begin to estimate what's possible if you can edit, delete, stimulate parts
of the existing
jungle of neurons. I can imagine the most wonderful things to be possible,
to be discovered
at great loss and tragedy in the lives of early adopter garage mind-hackers.

The more I think about it, the more I am acutely conscious just how much the
state sucks. I don't know for you people but I do not think the natural
brain is much fun in
it's unadjusted state.

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