One of the most prominent features of the future is the technology to link the world with the human mind. The applications of what I like to call Direct Neural Link technologies are as varied as they are spectacular. Applications like altering, sharing and cataloging memories like Facebook photos, downloading information like “how to perform a life-saving surgery” or “preform the piano” directly into your brain, remote controlling a surrogate body on the opposite side of the globe, reforming the worst members of our society, allow amputees to become whole again through cybernetics and even stimulate nerves to literally make the lame walk and the blind see. The futurists and transhumanists paint a future with Direct Neural Link tech as a paradise to rival that of Roddenberry for the price of a cybernetic implant.
But surprisingly, very few authors or futurists take five minutes to ask the basic question, What happens when something goes wrong?
I remember a discussion with one such person about a device he called a dial-a-mood that can put you in a better mood with a push of a button. I asked him, “what is to stop some desperate hacker from hacking a rich person's dial-a-mood and making the rich snob fall desperately in love with them so the hacker can take their money?” All he said was, “would make an interesting story.”
Then recently I was reading Devolution: A Firsthand Account of the Rainier Sasquatch Massacre (check it out it’s good) Where It briefly talked about a guy who hacked his hands so he could play the piano and how an exosuit could help the paralyzed or infirmed only to be asked, and I quote, “Isn’t it possible for someone to hack that suit once you put it on, force you to pick up your perfectly legal assault rifle, and walk down the street to the local preschool?“
And those are just scratching the surface for how DNL tech can be abused. Why hack through bank security in a robbery when you could just hack the bank manager? Why smuggle weapons to hijack a plane when you could just hijack the pilot? What is to stop some jealous former lover from hacking your spouse's nervous system? How can a murderer be brought to justice when they controlled an innocent person to keep their hands clean? How could crimes even be investigated when you could just make someone destroy evidence and erase any memories of the incident? How could governments survive if democratically elected officials could be turned into some dictators puppet on a string? How could the world survive when any nihilist with a charged lab top can make any or all world leaders push the big red button with a couple of keystrokes?
Any of these possibilities are horrifying on their own, but the problem is DNL tech in ANY of its forms opens Pandora’s box on ALL of them. The Skynet Contingency has already made us question whether or not it is wise or even SAFE to research A.I. But we seem hesitant to ask the same hard pointed questions of DNL tech.
So here is the billion-dollar question: What laws rules and regulations would be put in place to try and mitigate all the dangers of Direct Neural Link technologies represent?
(Editing notes: I did want to know if this technology would be made illegal, but Henry Taylor rightly pointed out, "Any human process can be hacked through social engineering. So if we follow the logic of making DNL illegal to its logical conclusion, we would have to make every aspect of human civilization illegal and just move back into the caves." So I am curious how they would be regulated, rather than flat out outlawed)