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Neurocops: Policing the Borders of Human Cognition
Wrye Sententia   Jun 28, 2003   TV2003  

Wrye Sententia speaking at the Transvision conference at Yale University on June 28, 2003. Until recently, the idea of Brain Police patrolling and controlling a free individual through the use of drugs has remained the lexicon of the clinically paranoid, or of sci-fi authors.  In 1932, Aldous Huxley imagined his brave new world of self-medicated happiness through Soma, and much of 20th century science fiction is steeped in technologies that impose state-sponsored mind control. In “The Futurological Congress” (1971), Stanislaw Lem portrayed a future in which people are controlled with mind-altering chemicals dubbed “benignimizers.” In the cyberpunk fiction of the 1980s & 1990s, people wanting to use mind altering drugs and technologies are often criminalized for doing so. Technologically-induced mental coercion is now coming of age through the backdoor, in a more minute, subtle, and inescapably effective way.  The political hot-potato, the War on Drugs is morphing from a criminal issue to a public health issue, one that indicates how a future ban on emerging mind technologies might be run by those opposed to personal enhancement via chemical, electronic, or even nanotechnologies.  We are witnessing the onset of chemical coercion in society-at-large, a drama in which every person’s cognitive liberty is at risk.

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