The plot thickens
Happiness Brigades could soon be part of every town and smart city – making us brimful of sunshine to fulfill the United Nations’ mandate for Gross Global Happiness. Tracked and monitored, the “not-yet-happy” could be brought up to spec with a specialized brain zapper, such as the ultrasonic neural interface funded by DARPA.
‘Pfff!’, you may be thinking – ‘I just won’t use it!’ … but smart ID chips are already being phased in as part of the global “federated identity ecosystem”, and chances of avoiding these are looking slim. The ID proposals include hackable biometrics, which will push us closer to “passthoughts” that rely on our unique, live, brainwave patterns; DARPA’s “portable brain recording device” (EEG) could be used for this. So can heartbeat sensors (ECG).
The smartphones which we’ll be expected to use for ID, payment, health services, and life-logging, are ridiculously prone to loss and theft, so by the time ubiquitous surveillance, implants, and neural interfaces have become normal, connecting your brain to the Internet might seem like a natural step. This, of course, would then make us the most vulnerable we could ever be. So just what are these ‘brain zappers’, and what do we mean when we talk about ‘mind control’?
Zapping the brain can have a great many good uses, but these have to be weighed against the equal number of potential bads. Scientists have discovered it’s possible to send signals to the brain to control a person’s movements, just like voodoo. They can cure or cause addiction. They can make you happy, or they can make you sad.
As for mind control, times have moved on, and the new methods of public manipulation are slicker than ever. Ye Olde Propaganda has always been a political tool, such as spreading rumors about adversaries, and ‘winning hearts and minds’ by guile. The early days of scientific propaganda, though, can be traced back to Edward Bernays, and a ‘story’ he created, using his media connections, to get women to start smoking. This was also the beginning of branding – the women on TV were said to be smoking ‘torches of freedom’. Time moved on, the Internet arrived and big data took over. There was so much data they didn’t know what to do. They had to put it into an understandable format, to be able to analyse, communicate and act upon the data being gathered. So in the last decade, intelligence agencies, and even corporations, have begun to frame their reports as narratives which shape, explain, and make sense of the data.
Cognitive computers themselves can do this – creating news articles from pooled data, just like I’m doing here, but with no human being involved. These computer-generated narratives are also on DARPA’s wish list, along with sensors to monitor people’s reactions to stories, in real-time.
As for propaganda, now called ‘strategic communications’, the powers-that-be see it all in terms of ‘telling a story’. Defence departments are now focused on creating ‘counter-narratives’, i.e. stories they believe will counteract the effects of ‘radicalism’. DARPA’S “Narrative Networks” program made the news in 2011 – the link to propaganda was clear to all.
So it’s important to understand that the program is still going! Moreover, stories can be used to affect changes in a person’s beliefs, their sense of identity, and even memory, partly because they stimulate the release of brain chemicals. So can neural interfaces. And DARPA’s funding of neural interfaces – and storytellers – is part of this program.
There are several ways to zap the brain – usually involving electrical and/or magnetic energy. The most common is transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) – when targeted at a specific area in the brain, TMS can create a variety of effects, including emotional changes, and even bodily movement. As reported by Activist Post, DARPA funded a study at Arizona State University, which aimed to, (i) map out the precise areas of the brain that are affected by stories; (ii) analyse how people respond to specific stories; and (iii) test ways of changing their response to a story, i.e. by altering the story format, and/or zapping their brains with TMS.
This technique is more properly referred to as neuromodulation, and involves stimulating the release of neurotransmitters by targeting specific areas of the brain with electromagnetic pulses; it’s being used to treat neurological and psychiatric disorders, in place of medication. Whilst more serious conditions have been treated with deep brain stimulation, using implanted microchips, people with pain and depression can be treated with TMS using a headset for the duration of the therapy. Unlike EEG recording devices (read-only), this headset is a computer-to-brain interface (CBI), since signals are sent to the brain, from a computer (i.e. write-only).
Obviously, this is where we start to get on very dodgy ground indeed. Especially when we find out that DARPA’s interest in narrative networks extends to the way both stories and TMS affect a person’s brain chemistry: they stimulate the release of profoundly important neurotransmitters (and/or hormones), especially dopamine and oxytocin. DARPA’s research, led by General Casebeer, has found that stories affect our emotions, our cultural and religious beliefs, and even memory. In other words, the narratives we hear (on TV, in the news, blogs, tweets, etc) affect important brain chemicals, and therefore our very identities. And so do pulsed electromagnetic fields – such as TMS.
TMS can only be delivered via either a CBI or implants. As noted in my last article, BCI headsets, such as those made by Emotiv and Neurosky, are well-developed and becoming popular amongst neuro-gamers and quantified-selfers.
CBIs are less advanced, as their use is far more complicated. However, neuromodulation is being used to treat a wide range of problems (including depression, and chronic pain), which is likely to stimulate growth in the market for personal brain zappers. DARPA is clearly aware of the vast range of possible applications for these devices, and have also been funding a new way of altering brain chemistry, called pulsed ultrasound, along with the US Department of Defense, and the US Army. Often referred to as focused ultrasound (FUS), this technology made the news in 2010, when William J Tyler, whilst at Arizona State University, won an award from DARPA for research into CBIs which use ultrasonic pulses to effect a variety of changes in the brain. Tyler has also worked with the Army Research Lab to look for ways to encode “sensory data onto the cortex using pulsed ultrasound” which can be “focused through the skull to any discrete region of the brain with millimeter accuracy.”
Tyler has published several papers showing the effects achieved using pulsed ultrasound, and has a company called NeuroTrek (formerly Synsonix, Inc.), which has received substantial sums from government funding. NeuroTrek sees its device as having applicability beyond serious medical conditions, and beyond the battlefield, claiming it could be used by gamers, the communications industry, and the entertainment industry.
Researchers at Arizona State University have also published several papers on pulsed ultrasound, as well as several patent application. Last year, Tyler filed a patent application for “Devices and Methods for Modulating Brain Activity” and another one this month (“Optimization of Ultrasound Waveform Characteristics for Transcranial Ultrasound Neuromodulation”), with two of his colleagues (one of whom includes Daniel Wetmore, who has contributed to the submission of several FUS patent applications; see also D P Jang, et al,in Korea).
An article in popsci.com quoted Tyler as saying,
Maybe the next generation of social entertainment networks will involve downloading customized information or experiences from personalized computer clouds while encoding them into the brain using ultrasound. I see no reason to rule out that possibility.
Focused ultrasound can deliver, “complex spatiotemporal patterns of acoustic waves” to achieve similar results to TMS, but has a spatial resolution which is five times greater, and can reach far deeper into the brain, meaning a lot more can be done with it, such as:
- neurological/psychiatric intervention
- cognitive enhancement
- behavioral reinforcement
- TBI (traumatic brain injury) protection
- pain intervention
- anxiety/stress reduction
- long term alertfulness/wakefulness
- navigational commands/assistance
Ahem! Did you notice “behavioral reinforcement” on that list? Are you thinking Pavlov’s dogs, aka operant conditioning? You’d be right – ultrasound delivered via a CBI can be used to activate reward pathways (dopamine) in the brain, which,“may be used to condition and/or reinforce certain desired attributes and/or to motivate specific behavioral actions . . . rats conditioned to press a bar to receive intracranial self-stimulation (ICSS) of [specific parts of the brain] will lead to reinforcing behaviors such that the rat ignores all other environmental cues and will engage in repeated bar pressing behaviors in order to gain the reinforcing/pleasure inducing ICSS of those brain nuclei.”
Sure sounds like addiction to me.
Soooo . . . Just stay away from them there mind-machines, eh? Errrm, well, that might not save you from having your brain messed with, I’m afraid. You see, propaganda has taken an entirely new turn. It’s gone from putting a spin on things, to an attempt to oversee the stories we all hear, whether it’s the news, or blogs we read, and even Tweets, or posts on Internet forums. DARPA has spent several years analysing universal narrative structures, and the physiological effects they have on people, as well as tracking popular narratives (and the memes they produce) in social media. (I’ll explain this more in a separate article.) General Casebeer, who is leading the research on narrative networks for DARPA, notes the sense of ‘reward’ is linked to the production of dopamine, a neurotransmitter which can affect whether you like or dislike a story, and which also “enervates several important parts of the brain responsible for memory, drive, judgment”.
There are numerous other hugely influential neurotransmitters than can be modulated by both neural interfaces and stories, including oxytocin (the ‘love hormone’). This powerful brain chemical is linked to the modulation of trust. Paul Zak, who has worked with General Casebeer on creating persuasive narratives, even believes our level of morality is dependent on the level of oxytocin we produce (psychopaths have little of it in situations that make other people release loads!).
Zak and Casebeer contributed to a high-level meeting on the use of narratives to ‘stop terrorism’. This meeting, attended by researchers, and military and federal agencies, was convened to examine the ‘Neurobiology of Political Violence’, including discussion of TMS, which can “turn parts of the human brain on and off”. Casebeer noted, “There is some emerging work being done on how Tweets can create a rise in oxytocin release based on message content.” We should bear in mind here the US Government’s Strategic Communications plan, which involves sentiment analysis, the use of counter-narratives, and ‘downvoting’ stories which it does not approve of, preventing discussion of certain ‘banned’ topics, as well as using “persona management software” to create false identities, and thus manipulate public perception of news and fool people into believing in a false ‘popular consensus’. This astroturfing technique has become common, and is just one part of the new Psy-op strategy – controlling the conversation.
By manipulating the news we hear, our primal responses can therefore be influenced, without us even knowing it. Obviously this has been going on for years, in the form of propaganda and reputation control, but the methods just keep getting slicker, and all the more insidious. Narratives are becoming the weapon of choice, said to be capable of nipping ‘radicalisation’ in the bud. Terrorists are said to ‘be radicalised’ by influential others, as if it were something done to them, and bit by bit, radicalisation is being defined as ‘mistrust of government’, which could one day mean little indignant nobodies such as myself being listed as ‘dangerous’!
I digress…. The point is that CBIs could become commonplace, given the huge range of potential applications, such as moderating the production of brain chemicals involved in emotion (e.g. serotonin), much like psychotropic drugs.
Brain-to-computer interfaces (BCIs) are already being used to link people’s minds/feelings to a movie they’re watching. MyndPlay have devised an EEG headset (using Neurosky’s microchips) which monitors the viewer’s emotional reactions to the movie, and changes the ending accordingly. (As a side note, analysing their state of mind also provides an insight into the kind of personality they have!)
Maybe some people would want the signal to work the other way as well, so when they’re watching a movie, their brain chemicals can be boosted to give them a more immersive experience. How about a boost of adrenaline for the fight scenes, or a dose of oxytocin to ‘feel’, empathically, what the characters in the film are ‘feeling’? What could be better? (says she, sarcastically). Both ‘narrative therapy’ and TMS are now being recommended for the treatment of depression. How long till Hollywood gets hold of it?
It’s a lot harder to bring a CBI to market than it is a BCI, because of the direction in which it works! There will always be issues with insurance, and brain zapping techniques are still in the early stages of development/understanding.
Should the use of CBIs become widespread, they could be used to condition people in almost any way imaginable. What is perhaps even more frightening is that it is now technically feasible that ultrasound techniques could be used,
… to activate sensory or motor brain regions of the subject to produce movement or to create synthetic brain imagery. For example …. projections of visual sounds to auditory regions of the brain, ability to generate virtual maps/images onto visual brain regions, ability to control body movement patterns of an individual. Such brain stimulation may …. cause the subject to make a turning motion in order to guide that subject via GPS or other feedback from navigation technology, or stimulate motor areas of the subject’s brain to cause the subject to make a motor action. Such methods and devices may be used for any application, including but not limited to, recreational, entertainment, and/or video gaming applications. (my italics)
In fact, this was done with a brain-to-brain interface(BBI) earlier this year! By the power of thought, and the use of transcranial focused ultrasound (FUS), a researcher was able to cause a rat’s tail to move. (Video of this on YouTube has a strobe in it.) Even more astounding is the announcement this week that human-to-human neural interfacing has been achieved, as shown in the video below:
It used to be that people had to guess what the public wanted; they could do polls and ask around people in the know, or even rely on hunches, but now things are very slick and super-sneaky. The definition of propaganda will, in fact, need to change; data from mass surveillance is being used to create targeted messages, which could be embedded into news articles, movies, TV shows, blogs, online forums, speeches, etc, for both political and commercial purposes, whilst our brains are monitored for our reactions, and possibly even neuromodulated to ensure our well-being, as each nation strives for Gross National Happiness. The new propaganda is sooooo subliminal, you and I might not notice. It may even be that events are being engineered over time to create the narrative that will be our history; perhaps people like me are being framed as ‘conspiracy theorists’ to serve a future purpose, as the characters in a future ‘story of how we got here’, who threatened the peace of the world, and had to be ‘made happy’.
It used to be that the study of narrative belonged mainly to the literary world, encompassing other subjective concerns such as philosophy, and history. Not any more. Forever in the name of ‘fighting terrorism’, the scientific study of stories breaches our last frontier, and could be used to reveal, and possibly even directly control, our unconscious minds.
It used to be that we’d worry about what would – one day – be possible, and we’ve grown up on a diet of media memes that help us imagine Orwellian scenes. Now we know how we can be controlled, even from a distance – and we can even list the brand names. The next step is mass production, the essence of mission creep.
Here endeth yet another sorry tale of a nightmare life, another affirmation of the craziness of the world. Perhaps the alternative media-sphere, just by trying to understand what is going on, has come to function like predictive programming! So much doom and gloom. Lots of newsworthy possibilities, waiting in the wings to become our future reality, as if there’s no alternative.
But really, it needn’t be so. There are those among you with creative flair, visions, and ideas. Storytellers and artists.
So help us please with tales of brighter imaginings, sing us songs and tell us stories of a better world that’s coming. Dream a dream and change the narrative so we see the future that you see. A better place to be.
 As reported by BusinessWire, “Neuromodulation devices have emerged as one of the fastest growing segments of the medical device market due to high demand for minimally invasive and non-invasive treatment. With advancements in technology, neuromodulation is expected to become a promising therapeutic area and high growth industry in the next decade, as it offers symptomatic relief mainly from chronic pain, incontinence, heart failure, headache, depression, epilepsy, etc. The neuromodulation devices market includes deep brain stimulation, spinal cord stimulation, vagus nerve stimulation, sacral nerve stimulation and other external stimulation devices such as transcranial magnetic stimulation, and transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS).
The neuromodulation technique acts directly upon nerves or the target area where the activity of nerves is altered due to biological responses produced by electrical stimulation or drug infusion. These devices include small electrodes that are attached to the brain, the spinal cord, or peripheral nerves. These precisely placed leads are connected by means of an extension cable to a pulse generator to generate electrical stimulation. Neuromodulation can have applications in any area of the body and can treat several diseases like chronic pain, epilepsy, psychiatric disorder, movement disorder, cardiovascular disorder, genitourinary and colorectal disorder, stroke and brain injury, and gastric disorder.”
 A patent application, submitted on behalf of Arizona State University, for “Devices and Methods for Modulating Brain Activity” (2012), stated,“Ultrasound (US) has been used for many medical applications, and is generally known as cyclic sound pressure with a frequency greater than the upper limit of human hearing. The production of ultrasound is used in many different fields, typically to penetrate a medium and measure the reflection signature or to supply focused energy. ….. A well-known application of this technique is its use in sonography to produce a picture of a fetus in a womb. ….. US waveforms can be defined by their acoustic frequency, intensity, waveform duration, and other parameters that vary the timecourse of acoustic waves in a target tissue.”
 See, for instance, ‘Transcranial ultrasound (TUS) effects on mental states: A pilot study’, by Hameroff et al, 2012, University of Arizona Health Sciences Center, Tucson, AZ, USA
This article first appeared at Get Mind Smart
Julie Beal is a UK-based independent researcher who has been studying the globalist agenda for more than 20 years. Please visit her website, Get Mind Smart, for a wide range of information about Agenda 21, Communitarianism, Ethics, Bioscience, and much more.