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Memory Erasure, Distortion & Fabrication - a Transhumanist Enhancement We Want?
Hank Pellissier   Aug 4, 2015   Ethical Technology  

Want to forget a tragic event or catastrophic relationship?

Want total recall of everything wonderful about your job or life or vacation or family, with deletion of the wretched aspects?

Want to feel camaraderie with your new in-laws, co-workers, or neighbors, but you weren’t there for all the deeply bonding moments?

If you answered “Yes” to anything above, Memory Manipulation is what you need, perhaps available in the future, via neuropsychologists who could specialize in “hippocampus tweaking.”

Rodents have already prospered via this new technology. In the last two years, researchers have discovered how to erase, reactivate, and inject memories in rats and mice.

UC San Diego stimulated nerves in rodent brains to weaken and strengthen synapses “selectively removing memories and predictable reactivating them.” UC Irvine scientists found that memories can be created by “direct cortical manipulation… playing a particular tone while stimulating the release of brain chemical(s).” RIKEN-MIT Center for Neural Circuit Genetics “encoded memories in the brains of mice by manipulating individual neurons.” Scripps Research Institute in Florida successfully extinguished memories.

We are the next beneficiaries! Memory manipulation in the human marketplace will offer spectacular, wide-ranging benefits in three specific categories listed below.

I am not “advocating” all these usages; I am just listing them as possibilities.

Erasure Sad, painful, frightening memories…  gone forever! Deleted. They never happened. You’re free. The ghosts won’t bother you anymore.

Distortion Life is a roller coaster, with big ups and downs. Amplify your peak moments; exaggerate your episodes of glory, joy, or intimacy. Plus - mute or obliterate your low points, or strategically falsify them, to portray yourself as heroic or loved.

Fabrication Enjoy fabulous adventures, exciting careers, and passionate romances that you never actually experienced, via simple injections. The vivid, detailed remembrances will keep you proud and cozy with nostalgia.

Let’s start by examining five of the painful situations that we’d like to forget:


Post Traumatic Stress Horrific events that cripple our psyches and incapacitate lives with flashbacks and nightmares will be obliterated, forgotten forever. Ghastly mental wounds will heal instantly when the cause of the injury has been extinguished.

Phobias Many of us suffer from irrational fears that originated in long-ago scarifying experiences. Wiping out our recall of the source events will free us from the resulting enfeeblement.

Hurt Hurt Hurt Ever been bullied? Celled “Fatty”, “Faggot”, “Slut”, or “Retard”? The high suicide rate of USA teens proves words can kill. Crippled self-esteem, leading to depression, is another consequence. People who are pummeled by hate - from middle-schoolers to the US President - could benefit from erasure of the stings, stabs and slander that they regularly endure.

Relationship Damage Relationships are often difficult, fraught with unresolved arguments and disturbing dishonesty and disappointments. In the future, marriage counselors could add “memory tweaking” to their services erasing the bad moments to retain intimacy. For example, 70% of married couples divorce after the death of a child. Remaining together becomes impossible because your partner’s presence reminds you of the inconsolable event. Memory erasure could eliminate the overwhelming grief; the once-happily-bonded husband and wife could move forward together, no longer crushed by memories.

Spy Operations Military special forces and secret service agents are often given highly-classified information to carry out specific tasks. After the mission is accomplished, documents are frequently shredded, to “disappear” the evidence. The spy’s recollections of the clandestine action could also vanish, via neurosurgery.

Next, let’s imagine situations where we might want to utilize memory that has been altered via —


Romantic Perfection Weddings, Honeymoons, Anniversaries - these cherished ceremonies can provide us with wonderful memories, unless they’re ruined by drunken uncles, diarrhea, jellyfish, or abominable sex. A perfect scrapbook of images can be secured in your hippocampus if the revolting memories are removed. To fill in the gaps that result, false lovey-dovey memories can be installed instead.

Mending by Monday Maybe you hate 80% of your job, due to rotten interactions with your co-workers. You don’t want to quit, so here’s an option: snip out all the foul memories, just cut them lose, so you can start fresh at the beginning of each week. Hack your recall, so you only remember delightful [i.e., totally false] interchanges. If you’re gnashing with resentment by Wednesday, add a mid-week appointment, too.

Sports Recovery Are you a star athlete, withouts of doubt? Are you losing your confidence because your pass is wobbly, your curveball is flat, or your shots can’t find the hoop? You need to get your mojo back via remembrance of only your greatest glories: homers, touchdowns, 3pt. plays, etc. You can also tweak the truth by distorting your wild pitches into strikes, or your intercepted passes into pin-point game winners.

Let’s wrap up the potential gains of this new technology with six situations where a beneficial application would be…


Instant Gang Member Numerous groups exist with strong social bonding: motorcycle clubs, drug cartels, fraternities, sororities, sports teams, military platoons, quilting bees, scout troops, Rotary, Elks, Oddfellows, NOW, PETA, prison gangs, etc. New members could be given “history of the organization” doses so they can gossip and remininsce as efficiently as the OGs.

Cozy With the In-Laws You’re marrying into an immense, neurotic, close-knit clan with an idiosyncratic code of behavior. to aid your awkward navigation - “what’s that great-aunt’s Pekinese’s name again?” - you need Join-The-Family neural implantations for your hippocampus.

Parenting Moms & Pops of newborns invariably feel “lost-at-sea” when their spawn starts screaming and projectile vomiting with pink eyes and a colicky tummy. Implantation of parenting experience will reduce stress about mastitis, navel infections, diaper rash, on myriad other menaces that freak out new nesters.

Squirt Me Some Courage and Capability Extreme adventure seekers crave the thrills but many don’t want to spend hours learning the technical aspects of mountain climbing, cave spelunking, sky free-falling or snowboard jumping. Injections of the nuts & bolts needed could be provided for “weekend warriors” - just enough to keep them alive.

Etiquette GPS Are you an international sales rep, embarking on a whirlwind tour promoting products in Asia? But you lack time to real all the Culture Shock literature? Can’t remember which nationalities require incessant bowing, or show removal, or avoiding-touch-with-left-hand? Get scheduled to ingrain your memory with the correct cultural procedures.

But… are there… any…


Memory manipulation, like numerous other merging technologies (AI, drones, eugenics) needs to be approached with extreme caution. Its positive possibilities are wonderful, but we need to avoid its potential for malignant, brain-ruinous usage. Below are two ways it can hurt us:

Blurring of Truth & Reality If our memories are easily altered, the precise facts of what actually happened might lose their concreteness and import, if executed on a mass scale. We don’t know the precise consequences because this is uncharted territory in human evolution, although it does bear a strong resemblance to the numerous times that conquering nations have “created” history to justify their actions and denigrate their opposition’s POV. History will lose credibility as a tool-for-the-present-to-learn-from if the integrity of events is obliterated.

No ”Pain Is Gain” Attitude Today many view personal suffering as an “educational experience.” This philosophy is expressed in NIetzsche’s maxim ”what does not kill me makes me stronger. If we obliterate all discomforting memories, we abandon the possibly of using them to build our perseverance, intelligence, and character.


Dear readers, what’s your opinion? Do the dangers outweigh the benefits? Are there a few, or many, safe usages of memory manipulation? Please your comments below:

Hank Pellissier serves as IEET Managing Director and is an IEET Affiliate Scholar.


First analog-Manchurian candidate or assasin. Think of Ah Nolds character from Philip K. Dicke’s Total Recall.

Second analog-mitigating stress disorders.

Third analog - mass memory control, for the perfect dictatorship.

I view this, despite great research being done, as far away in time for widespread applications.

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