Brains and Spaces: A Present Future

Firas Safieddine

The military nature of scientific and technological funding, even when carried out in civic institutes, universities and research facilities, raises a series of questions on how that research will develop. This article puts forward an iconic example of this and explores how technologies have made neurotech research more accessible. With this expansion, neuroscience has infiltrated the design discourse by recently being implemented in research, educational programs, and practices. With great breakthroughs such as open-source wearable EEG, neurograins, and machinery capable of processing gigantic amounts of data, a new horizon opens up to a new future, yet to be revealed. With the introduction of the concept of the internet of neurons, perhaps a dark example is this case of China, a surveillance landscape that leads us to question urban life, social interactions, anonymity and a lot of other concepts that are on the verge of a great transformation. In parallel, more interesting changes are overtaking architectural and design concepts. With all this at hand, thinking about the future of design practices seems inevitable.

Neuroscience, in the modern use of the term, and more specifically neurotechnology, similar to much, if not the vast majority, of scientific research, has been funded by military organizations. But unlike other research projects [thermodynamics, mechanics, nuclear science, aerodynamics, etc.], neurotechnology has not been directly weaponized, yet.

Modern neuroscience is technically the militarization of neuroscience, by state funding of advanced and heterogenous neuroscience research, in an attempt to open it up to other practices and work across several (previously known to be disconnected) disciplines in order to be able to respond to new desires and needs in public, private and military institutions through military authorities. In that sense, neuroscience has definitely been militarized. From its start, neurotechnology has mainly been used for medical interventions, as a scientific background for various tactics, mechanisms, and research projects, and as an encryption of human dynamics and social behavior in general. Being nurtured by military organizations, neurotechnology, as one would trivially guess, is meant to be weaponized.

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