Skip to comments.Mind reading by MRI scan raises 'mental privacy' issue
Posted on 06/09/2008 9:32:18 AM PDT by BGHater
Employers, the military and intelligence services may soon be using computerised mind-reading techniques and there is a need for a public debate about "mental privacy," a leading neuroscientist said yesterday.
At the Cheltenham Science Festival, backed by The Daily Telegraph, Prof Geraint Rees of University College London said that, although hospital patients and experimental volunteers are protected, there is a need for debate about, for example, whether employers could use mind reading methods to decode brain activity to screen job applicants.
Another possibility raised by studies of how the brain encodes memories and other information is that these methods could be used by intelligence agencies: a suspect's brain could be interrogated against their will. "There are obvious military activities and the CIA and so on are known to be interested too."
And it could be possible to reveal unconscious prejudices: a person who claims not to be a racist could be revealed to be one, if their amygdalae, almond shaped structures linked with disgust, go into action when shown a picture of a black person, raising the nightmarish possibility of interrogation for "thought crimes".
Although "conceptually possible," Prof Rees says say this is currently firmly in the realm of science fiction because these mind reading methods, which typically detect tiny changes in blood flow in the brain, currently have to be adapted to each individual during hours of training while in the scanner.
"You need an all purpose lie detector that would work with many people," he says. "That is quite challenge, given people's brains are different shapes and sizes, and lies come in many variations too, from my CV to how I got here."
However, he warned about potential privacy issues in the future when scanning techniques improve, so they could be used to evaluate brain scans, even those taken years earlier that have been stored in medical archives. "We have to think about this now, because we are going down this road."
And, though much more distant, there is also the possibility that technology may be developed to read minds from afar: current methods require people to wear a high tech hair net, to measure flickers of electrical activity, or to put their heads in a large machine to detect magnetic activity, or changes of blood flow.
Another possibility is that, as was shown in the sci fi classic film Blade Runner, it may be possible to use the pupil of the eye, and the way it constricts, to shed light on what people are thinking about when asked questions.
Not possible yet.
One of my favorite shows and right on the money! LOL
His objection is not that it can't currently be done, it's that it's not currently practical for the average scenario
However, it WOULD be practical for certain high-value scenarios (like security checks for people working on top-secret projects), where it could be made a condition of maintaining your security clearance.
One day Britain will use “mind reading” machines to put people in jail for their thoughts.
Don’t think so?
People are already arrested for their thoughts (”hate crime” laws).
People are already convicted or released based on the results of a polygraph machine.
Britain is a totalitarian state ruled by strict adherence to PC.
I truly believe that “Great” Britain is turning into another U.S.S.R.
I once had a high school history teacher tell me that the natural progression of a state is from democracy, to socialism, to communism, then back to democracy. From present trends in the US, UK and Russia, I’m thinking the guy was pretty smart.