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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Brain Waves

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April 23, 2004

The Coming Neurosociety Transcript

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Posted by Zack Lynch

If you missed Natasha Mitchell, host of Australia's weekly national radio program, All in the Mind, interview me about The Coming of the Neurosociety, the transcripts are now available.

Here is an excerpt :

Zack Lynch: Currently the United States has recently implemented fingerprinting people as they come into the United States from certain countries. If they have the capacity to do brain finger printing should that be done, is there a right for individuals, Americans, or foreigners to have brain privacy? Where is that edge in a neurosociety?

Natasha Mitchell: Where indeed? Hello Natasha Mitchell with you for All in the Mind. This month sees the release of another surreal offering from screenwriter Charlie Kaufman with the film Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. The film has stars Jim Carey and Kate Winslet selectively erasing their minds of memories of their tumultuous relationship with the help of a maverick scientist and a whiz bang piece of neurotechnology.

Extract from the movie Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind trailer:

Here at Lacuna we have a safe technique for the focussed erasure of troubling memories.

Is there any risk of brain damage?

Technically the procedure is brain damage.

It’s on a par with a night of heavy drinking, nothing you’ll miss.


That baby is history.

It’s all been wiped away.

They are erasing you Clem you’ll be gone by morning.

Natasha Mitchell: Yes, well it sounds improbable though not according to my guest today who believes that the rapid convergence of nanotechnology, cognitive science, biotechnology and information technology, which all gets abbreviated to 'Nano-Bio-Info-Cogno' by the way, will have major consequences for how we think and behave.

You might have read recent headlines championing the arrival of the next big thing in the advertising world, Neuromarketing - just one example of the prospects for neurotechnology. It’s an attempt to find the 'brain’s buy button', so they say, and the idea is to scan our brains, measure cerebral blood flow to find out what our subconscious minds really feel about a product and to tailor ad campaigns accordingly.

The hype around it all has been palpable and keeping a keen eye on it is Zack Lynch who’s Executive Director of a non-profit organisation he’s founded called the Neurosociety Institute and he also runs a popular net blog called Brain Waves – Neurons – Bits and Genes, exploring technologies that target the contents of psyche and beyond. And Zack joins me today on All in the Mind.

Zack Lynch thanks for joining me on the program from there in San Francisco.

Zack Lynch: Well thank you for having me.

Natasha Mitchell: You think we’re on the cusp of yet another major societal transformation, you suggest that we’re heading towards a neurosociety. What is a neurosociety?

Zack Lynch: Well if we look back through human history what we see is we’ve come from an agricultural society to an industrial society, today we’re living in an information society where political, economic, social changes, basically driven by information technology. If we look forward what we see is the convergence of multiple technologies that will allow us to develop effective tools for mental health. Now those tools are neurotechnology, the set of tools that allow us to manipulate our central nervous system, more specifically our brain. Our future society will be driven by neurotechnology. Now that’s brain scanning technologies, neuroceuticals, which are advanced psycho-pharmaceuticals and those will create new industries. They will have political, economic and major ethical implications.

Natasha Mitchell: You paint a pretty grandiose vision, I’ll come to neuroceuticals in a minute because that’s an intriguing possibility – you suggest that neurotechnology has the potential to redefine competitive advantage, restructure patterns of global production and make possible new modes of artistic expression. I mean to some ears this all sound rather improbable.

Zack Lynch: Sure, with any new technology there’s always promise and peril; it’s a double-edged sword. Now I think it’s important to know that when I talk about the neurosociety what we’re really talking about is a time from about 2010 to 2060. This isn’t something that’s occurring now so when you’re looking at how brain scanning technology is and neurotechnology is in its current state today.

Natasha Mitchell: Positively antiquated.

Zack Lynch: Correct, absolutely, as I like to say, Prozac is the wheel!

Comments (1) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Neurosociety


1. Denny on April 26, 2004 11:41 PM writes...

Nanotechnology as it relates to any aspect of medicine is VERY exciting. Your intro, using "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind," is a little unfortunate, however. Not the example of nanotech application you may believe it to be. See my Apr 21 post.

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