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Experts Discussing the Possibilities of Human Conscience: what rules human predispositions?

Some researchers of science argue that Sigmund Freud has made a real revolution in the minds by putting forward the theory that a man is not a master of his own thoughts, but only blindly wandering in strong gravitational fields of his subconscious. Was Grandpa Freud right and is a person able to make a great mistake taking a "conscious" decision? For example, when it comes to choosing a career. Is it possible that the physical parameters of our brain activity, which we can measure today, will greatly ease the burden of choice? Or is it the right path for the next "class" division of humanity? The experts in the field of neuropsychology and education express their opinion.

Pavel Luksha, professor of practice of the Skolkovo Moscow School of Management, a member of the Expert Council of the Agency for Strategic Initiatives:


"My position on the ability of the genome and connectome to determine a person's predisposition to a profession is quite skeptical. These factors work in those conditions when resources of human are exploited at maximal strength (as during the Olympic games). In these cases the natural physiological predispositions come into play. But if we are talking about an average level, the plasticity of the human brain and body is that people with different initial conditions can learn a profession desirable for them. Very often a will of a man and his desire to achieve certain results play a much more important role than a predisposition does. Several studies refute the need for this type of scanning, because according to them, we will get more of harm than of the use. And besides, it is more important to give people an opportunity to express them and to overcome some limitations than to strengthen these constraints.

The question of extension of the frameworks of opportunities, not of their identifying seems to me more important. A man has relied not only on its natural advantages throughout history, but also on what is called a "second nature", that is technologies that enable him to overcome various limitations. Precisely because of this a man has come in space. He has no natural predispositions to live there, but the people have already been beyond our planet for many times. All this happens because technologies appear that allow us to overcome our natural inclinations. We are sure that we will further develop similar technologies, but related to cognitive abilities. And here we need some form of regulation. If we move towards a society where routine work goes to the robots and a man becomes a creator, it is necessary to understand which technologies approach man closer to this, and which do not".

Yuriy Kunz, a psychologist, director of "Gagarin" social adaptation and vocational guidance center:


"I'm a neuroscientist at basic education, and it is not clear for me which technologies should be used to solve this problem. In general, it is not a fact that the notion of neuronal capacity on the measurement of which it is apparently supposed to assess the propensities of people has some quality content. The nervous system activity is estimated in modern neuroscience by some energy parameters that we can measure through electroencephalogram. But not only neurons are involved in their generation, but also glial cells, for example. This shows that the indicators, that are typically measured during the assessing the activity of the nervous system, usually describe just a small part of work of the brain.

The brain is designed as a two-storey structure. First floor is a "mechanics": control of the body, organs of perception and so on. Second floor is a few sections of the cerebral cortex, which are responsible for human traits, arbitrary behavior. And the "second floor" today is not measured by physiological indicators, there are simply no such technologies

Factors which are measured today play a role in the selection of candidates for the professions, in which physiological characteristics of a person, such as the ability to concentrate, plays an important role. For example, a train driver or operator of the airspace. Features of the nervous system are directly dependent on the genetic status there. But there is no certainty for such subtle things as the choice of professional activity that the characteristics of genetics or brain activity directly affect them. In general, according to how neuroscience develops (the science, not the technology), it seems that it has reached its limits. Those neurotechnologies, which we have, now are a direct consequence of the results obtained by neuroscience. And until there has not been a jump in the neurosciences, there will not have been a jump in the neurotechnologies also".

Maxim Kiselev, Doctor of Social Psychology, expert of Skolkovo Foundation:


"Project of USA NIH on the research of connectome of the human (Human Connectome Project - Ed.) in fact has not come to the direct conclusions, which parameters can show predispositions of the person. Mankind has always tried for objective or quasi-objective reasons to determine who should do what in this life. For example, Greek poet Hesiod wrote a "Labors and Days", where tried to explain with the help of astrology who and in what will have a good luck. Of course, there is an opportunity as well as a danger in this desire.

The opportunity is to help a person with an informed choice. I believe that the choice should be absolutely free, and neither the state nor parents should put pressure on the person who makes that choice. Scanning should not prejudge, not say about the only possible way, but just assist.

As for the dangers, the threat of development of neuroeugenics immediately appears here. There is a risk to repeat the history of eugenics, of the selection of people, which became a part of Nazi ideology. The danger of this kind exists because someone will want for sure to use such data for selection. Of course, if we are at the viewpoint of the scientific community, this must be fought against. The ability of particular society to resist this will be associated with the value mechanisms and the ability of people in such society to agree on that what suits everyone".


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