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Can Nanotech in our Brains Make us Smarter?

Can nanotech make us smarter? Can we put nanobots in our brains to enhance our memory or increase our computational abilities? Plans for neuro-cognitive enhancement are introducing new terms such as ‘intelligence amplification’ (IA) or ‘cognitive augmentation’ and even ‘machine augmented intelligence’. Nano-neuro-techies are fomenting a revolution in the cybernetic industry, which has been underway since the 1950s and 1960s. The Enhancement Technologies Group, for example, wants to increase the capability of a person to approach a complex problem and solve it. “Increased capability in this respect is taken to mean a mixture of the following: more-rapid comprehension, better comprehension, the possibility of gaining a useful degree of comprehension in a situation that previously was too complex, speedier solutions, better solutions, and the possibility of finding solutions to problems that before seemed insolvable.” http://www.ucl.ac.uk/~ucbtdag/bioethics/layintro.html

Even more dramatic secnarios can be imagined. Suppose small incremental enhancements are introduced. Then these small changes are amplified and re-amplified until they grow exponentially. These new levels of intelligence could transfer themselves to accelerated computing platforms, such as optical nanocomputers or quantum nanocomputers. This would allow them to accelerate the brain's thinking speed significantly. Futurists have called the possibility of such an event the "Singularity." The idea of this singularity implies an impact upon our world that could “exceed that of any other foreseeable technological advance,” says the Accelerating Futures group. http://www.acceleratingfuture.com A “Singularity, if successful, would create a massive upward spike in the quantity of intelligence here on Earth, a persistent positive-feedback process, continuously enhancing itself. In a favorable scenario, our freedom and potential could be maximized, opening up astonishing new possibilities that might have taken trillions of years for unaided humans to create alone.”

Such are the futuristic scenarios being spun by nanotech prophets searching for nanotech profits. Like previous technological revolutions, this one can be expected to have an impact on society, with ethical and legal implications. Because of the bodily enhancement potential of nanobiotechnology, it will pick up religious implications as well. Theologians will ask: could advances in nanobiotech actually change or alter what we have come to know as human nature? If so, according to what ethical guidelines should we proceed? 

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