As Jason has already informed Catallaxy readers, the 2008 Mont Pelerin Society Essay Competition is on. The prizes are pretty good – trips to the Mont Pelerin Society meeting in Tokyo over September 7-12 this year, plus US$2,500 for first prize, $1,500 for second prize, and $1,000 for third prize.
Speakers at the conference include luminaries such as Gary Becker, James Heckman, and Vaclav Klaus. He’s not so famous, but I am also looking forward to hearing the prolific but consistently interesting Edward Glaeser (and of course I am also looking forward to my first trip to Japan).
To get there, you have be less than 35 years old and to write in 5,000 words maximum by 30 April your answer to:
In The Constitution of Liberty Hayek says that “we are probably only at the threshold of an age in which the technological possibilities of mind control are likely to grow rapidly and what may appear at first as innocuous or beneficial powers over the personality of the individual will be at the disposal of government. The greatest threats to human freedom probably still lie in the future.”
Has Hayek’s gloomy warning been borne out by events, or has technology become more a force for liberating people from government?
7 thoughts on “Win trip to Tokyo, meet Nobel Prize winner”
I like Hayek but it’s an odd essay topic. Sounds a bit Scientology to me.
David – I think the problem with the quote is the reference to ‘mind control”. Apart from drugs designed for mental health use I don’t think this has happened, and those drugs have largely had positive consequences in giving individuals control over their own lives. Nor does it seem even remotely likely that direct ‘mind control’ will occur. However, governments have used technology in attempts to improve their propaganda and surveillance techniques, and there I think the more interesting issues lie.
Yes I agree, that quote sounds a bit loopy taken out of context.
I don’t know the history that well, but I presume Hayek was influenced by the 1950s debate about brainwashing, particularly in the context of the Korean war.
By mind control I think they mean the ubiquitous use of highly researched advertising.
Things like advertising aimed at children, who are more or less defenceless against it which is designed to get them to nag their parents, etc. This stuff is also used by the government though it is far less effective.
I think it sounds like a fascinating topic. Beyond mind control – an interesting area in itself – the subject is pretty open.
As detailed in the BBC program ‘Visions of the Future’ with Michio Kaku, we now have the technology for someone to subtly and potently alter their mood at the touch of a dial. The technique involves the implantation of an interface into the human brain, as such it has so far been used for severely clinically depressed people, who after the surgery and some adjustments are perfectly content. Assumedly the technology could also be used to make discontent factory workers adore their jobs.
The dominion we hold over the human mind can only expand, and only accelerate in doing so.