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Mind Reading, Thought Control and Neuro Marketing: Is “the Lord of the World” still science fiction?

Is there any “science fiction” left?

Or is it all just “science” in its different stages of development?

It seems to me that most of the 20th century science fiction is already either a hard reality or in the process of development. (Just think about the advances in air and space travel, computers, the internet, genetic engineering etc)

For example, when I was in my early teens I fell in love with what was then science fiction. Growing up in a communist country, behind the thick drapes of the Iron Curtain, one of the first sci fi authors that I read was naturally Alexander Belyayev.

In Bulgaria Belyayev was well known for his novel Amphibian Man (1928) but also for Professor Dowell’s Head (1925), the Island of Crushed Ships and the Lord of the World (1942).

Lord of the World by Alexander Belyayev In his the Lord of the World Belyayev describes the invention and wide-ranging global implications of wireless mind-control technology which had the power to  subvert the free will of single individuals, whole armies or nations.

Today, nearly sixty years after the publication of his science fiction book, mind reading, thought control and even “neuro marketing” technology is well in development. FMRI and advancements in real-time brain-scanning technologies are already being used for “thought identification.” An Indian court has used brain-scan evidence to sentence a woman for the murder of her fiance. Self-proclaimed “neuro marketers” are already promising their corporate clients access to their customers’ most inner thoughts and desires. (Hey, who said that we have to use mind control to rule the world? Why not just sell people more stuff?)

Many of the basic technological requirements for Belyayev’s the Lord of the World are already in development. Just like biology, brain scanning technology has turned into an information technology where a stunning exponential growth of development has caused more progress in the last 9 years of this century than that of the whole previous one.

Mapping and simulating a working model of the human brain in its totality is a most prominent benchmark on the way to creating Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the technological singularity. And industry heavy-weights such as IBM have put a time-line and invested heavily in reaching that benchmark. (Current estimates are pointing to the year 2019)

What is even more stunning is that, according to the experts, working versions of a whole generation of brain scanning, thought identifying, mind reading machines are highly probable within the next several years, and certainly expected within a decade or two from now.

The following CBS 60 Minutes video story uncovers some of the details and the implications of the present and future of those technologies (original aired on June 28, 2009).

Other examples of the-Lord-of-the-World precursor technologies also abound. For instance, a recent Reuters news report showed that a wheelchair operated directly by human brainwaves is in all likelihood just the first step toward a future where electrical appliances are turned on and operated entirely through our thoughts.

Another video demonstrates a wireless remote-controlled cyborg beetle “driven” or “directed” to fly around by its human controllers.

So, if we put all the above videos together then:

Is “the Lord of the World” scenario still complete science fiction?

What are the chances of some (or all) of us turning into mind-controlled cyborg beetles?

If you ask me, I’d say the chances are getting better and better…

What do you think?!

Updates:

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