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Brain Privacy

michael posted more than 10 years ago | from the he-knows-when-you've-been-naughty dept.

Privacy 495

sleepyrobot writes "As neuroscience advances and brain scans become more sophisticated, the Boston Globe points out that some privacy advocates are concerned about brain privacy. Could employees be scanned for violent or depressive impulses? Could soldiers be screened for homosexuality? It sounds like a Philip K. Dick vision of the future, but some predict this will be a bigger ethical issue than genetics."

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495 comments

Fr0st Pist (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#5854646)

FP [goatse.cx]

Re:Fr0st Pist (-1)

Fecal Troll Matter (445929) | more than 10 years ago | (#5854662)

Hey man, you pounced on that quick. Are you a subscriber? Hey what's that li-ARGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!#b!#g!##)*(&!#!#!#!

Subscriptions are for ass-wipes... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#5854724)

nt

This is scary, or is it just over-reaction? (5, Interesting)

Blaine Hilton (626259) | more than 10 years ago | (#5854656)

Now this is a rather disturbing article. I've always thought it was something that people can check out brain function and all of that, however I never thought off it as being a privacy concern. This article though brings up some interesting points. Such as having brain scans be a condition to being hired, much like a drug test of today. This at first seems shocking, but it is commonly accepted to take a drug test without any objections. With the heightened security concerns around the globe I believe people, as a whole are willing to work towards a "more secure" future.

The problem I see though is people are not thinking broad enough. Technologies such as this can be used on a large scale against humanity. I believe the consequences of such abilities need to be addressed in a uniform manner, without always talking about the terrorists that will kill us all anyway. How far will society let the security over take our lives? I for one do not want to end up living in a military state where every body that does not have blonde hair, blue eyes, and a perfect attitude is destroyed. Do you?

Go calculate [webcalc.net] something

Re:This is scary, or is it just over-reaction? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#5854819)

Another bland response designed to get modded up and advertise webcalc.net

You must be using some sort of notification system so that you can get very near the first post.

Who said text advertising is dead?

Re:This is scary, or is it just over-reaction? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#5855009)

Yes, they are. [cheats4us.org]

Webcalc is worse than goatse!

Got a whole lotta hype (5, Insightful)

TopShelf (92521) | more than 10 years ago | (#5854820)

There's a major difference between a drug screen and having your brain scanned as a condition of employment. A drug screen is meant to pick up illegal activity which poses a tangible safety and liability issue to a potential employer. There's nothing illegal about thinking anything (at least in the developed democracies), so I don't see brain scans becoming accepted practice during my lifetime (knock on wood).

Re:Got a whole lotta hype (1, Insightful)

Ron Bennett (14590) | more than 10 years ago | (#5854964)

"There's nothing illegal about thinking anything (at least in the developed democracies), so I don't see brain scans becoming accepted practice during my lifetime (knock on wood)."

Guess you haven't heard about the Hate Crimes bills that have passed here in the States in the past few years...

Re:Got a whole lotta hype (3, Insightful)

TopShelf (92521) | more than 10 years ago | (#5855017)

You can sit around and hate whoever you like, it's when you act on it by assaulting others that it becomes a crime. Try another swing..

Re:This is scary, or is it just over-reaction? (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#5854850)

I'm glad you're a subscriber, Blaine! That just means I can be assured of having to read your nauseating group-think posts. What a load off of my mind.

Go calculate something somewhere else.

Re:This is scary, or is it just over-reaction? (5, Insightful)

RatBastard (949) | more than 10 years ago | (#5854890)

You want to test my blood/urine/etc... for drugs? Get a search warrant or get the hell out. My body is more private than my house. People put up with random/compulsery drug tests because they have been brainwashed by the whole "War on Drugs" debacle that it is a Good Thing to test people with no Probable Cause whatsoever.

Brain scanning like this, combined with genetic testing will create a tiered populous with those deemd "fit" (and deemed by who, exactly?) at the top, and the great unwashed masses at the bottom.

It seems almost inevitable that humanity keeps trying to organize itself into the lords and the serfs.

It's an over-reaction (5, Insightful)

itchyfidget (581616) | more than 10 years ago | (#5854909)

... not that that will stop people from trying to use it as a high-tech lie-detector :-/

From the original article:

If a truly accurate lie detector could be developed, Caplan warns, current privacy guarantees might not provide enough protection against scanning requests from courts, the government, the military, or employers.

The key word here is if. Functional brain imaging like f(unctional)MRI is still in its infancy, and it takes quite a lot of repetitions of looking at your stimulus (e.g. something you might or might not have lied about) before you can build up a statistically reliable picture about the parts of the brain involved in processing that stimulus. If someone is stressed out because they are being investigated, and they *know* what the investigators are looking for evidence of, then there is nothing to say that they won't show stress at the appropriate moments out of fear! (By way of comparison, parts of the primary motor cortex have been found to 'light up' when people imagine movement, not just when they excecute it).

But what if someone with no symptoms is diagnosed as having a tendency toward mental illness because of a brain profile?

IMO, there is an enormous risk of misdiagnosis using this technology - currently, brain mapping involves a lot of "stamp collecting" and relatively little consideration of how the individual areas of the brain might function as a series of joined up units (and there are a lot of units).

Re:It's an over-reaction (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#5854993)

Not to worry, our leader will quickly make sure that future scanners with this technology are illegal. Let's face it, politicians and lawyers are the biggest liars of us all :^)

Re:This is scary, or is it just over-reaction? (1)

sunbeam60 (653344) | more than 10 years ago | (#5854977)

> I for one do not want to end up living in a > military state where every body that does not have > blonde hair, blue eyes, and a perfect attitude is > destroyed. Do you? Uhhhh, that's the fastest example of Godwin I've ever seen.

Maybe (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#5854666)

Reading my mind could have allowed CmdrTaco to prevent me from making first post!

Re:Maybe (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#5854697)

CURSES! Foiled again.

(/me puts on tinfoil hat!)

get yours now (5, Funny)

Em Emalb (452530) | more than 10 years ago | (#5854680)

Only $19.95....that's right ladies and gentlemen,
get your tinfoil hat from Think Geek right now.

Comes replete with roguish angle setting device.

Uhm, yeah.

Re:get yours now (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#5854849)

Nahhh, all you have to do is get a ferromagnetic plate in your head and MRI will be so screwed up as to be un-usable. Of course you'll also have a heck of a bruise from where your head get's smacked against the magnet someone tries to forcably scan you.

AFDB! (3, Funny)

SteakandcheeseUm (191173) | more than 10 years ago | (#5854686)

Would my Aluminum Foil Deflector Beanie work in this instance? Or break the machine...

Re:AFDB! (0, Flamebait)

Blaine Hilton (626259) | more than 10 years ago | (#5854725)

With the magnets spinning around your head it would probably break you, but then you wouldn't have to worry about any privacy issues.

Gah! (2, Insightful)

PopeAlien (164869) | more than 10 years ago | (#5854698)

Sounds sort of horrific and frightening at first.. but what if anyone could read anyones mind? Would that really be such a bad thing? It would make it damn hard to have anysort of fraud in a situation like that.

Re:Gah! (1)

pokeyburro (472024) | more than 10 years ago | (#5854821)

Some people have bad enough grammar when they speak. I'd hate to see what's in their heads that's not making it out their mouths. What makes you think you could understand what's in anyone's head?

Re:Gah! (4, Interesting)

dissy (172727) | more than 10 years ago | (#5854831)

Its still all cause and effect.

Most lies are not told simply to be dishonest.
Most lies are told because I know you would be aginst my answer if it was the truth.

Secrets need to be kept until every person understands everyone else.
Until that time, you can not have a fully open and honest group of people.

Does the homosexual not tell everyone they are homosexual because they intend to trick people or are ashamed? No. They dont tell people because there are (good) chances the person would not understand and treat them badly.

It's like drugtests at the work place. Do drugs make people a better or worse employee? Neither of those answers will apply 100% of the time. Yet its assumed 'worse' is always right even when its not. This is why people keep their drug use secret.

I would be all for a planet where all humans could read everyone elses minds and there were no secrets. But to have that, I would not want people to judge me incorrectly based on what I think.

This is basically what we do now.
If you for example were homosexual, or did drugs, you dont tell 'everyone' this, but you tell the people who are your friends or better, who you know won't react out of fear or misunderstanding.

The best answer is for everyone in the world to be just as understanding of everyone as you and your best friends are.
At that point, secrets will be unneeded.

Re:Gah! (1)

Alrescha (50745) | more than 10 years ago | (#5854915)

"but what if anyone could read anyones mind? Would that really be such a bad thing?'

If *everyone* could read anyones mind, it probably wouldn't be such a bad thing. Unfortunately, in our society, such tools rarely empower everyone. The tool becomes another advantage used by an already empowered minority.

A.

What if they only *think* they can read your mind? (1)

GuyMannDude (574364) | more than 10 years ago | (#5854965)

I think the thing that spooks me the most is that others may think they are reading my mind but in fact are not. I'm actually not too worried about people accurately reading my mind because I believe that I'm a decent person. But this technology won't be failure-proof and many might believe that it is. I'd hate for the machine to claim that I'm thinking about terrible thing X when, in fact, I would never really think such a thing. How would I argue against that?

Work published last year by Dr. Daniel D. Langleben, assistant profess of psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania, indicated that certain areas of the brain show more activation when people lie. His group is now trying to see whether they can use the technique to produce an effective lie detector, one that would far outperform the deeply imperfect polygraph.

Here's a section from the article that people are thinking about doing just what I'm afraid of. The public is finally just now starting to understand that the traditional polygraph is horribly unreliable. Once these brain-based lie detectors come online, the advocates will claim they are 80%, 90%, whatever-percent effective. And everyone will believe them. Only decades later might we find out that they, too, are horribly unreliable.

GMD

Why not? (3, Funny)

Meat Blaster (578650) | more than 10 years ago | (#5854706)

Making a potential employee whiz in a cup in front of a stranger became an acceptable business practice overnight. Scanning brains seems pretty civil in comparison.

Re:Why not? (4, Insightful)

neurostar (578917) | more than 10 years ago | (#5854781)

Making a potential employee whiz in a cup in front of a stranger became an acceptable business practice overnight. Scanning brains seems pretty civil in comparison.

But the stuff in your piss is because of someting (drugs, alcohol, etc) that you've done. A brain scan searches for things that you didn't cause, and things that you can't change.

neurostar

Re:Why not? (5, Funny)

Thud457 (234763) | more than 10 years ago | (#5854843)

"that you can't change. "

Sure, you can change them.
But then you fail the piss in the cup test!

Re:Why not? (1)

Meat Blaster (578650) | more than 10 years ago | (#5854892)

I'm not a doctor, so I'm not aware of the full range of things detectable in urine, but it almost certainly includes things one wouldn't necessarily have to (or want to!) disclose to a potential employer, such as anti-depressant medication or diabetes, which could unfairly tag a person as being a possible liability down the line and therefore less than desirable for reasons beyond his/her control.

Re:Why not? (1)

truthsearch (249536) | more than 10 years ago | (#5854798)

Pee in a cup can't tell them much more than what I've ingested for the past X hours. Scanning may be less physically intrusive, but it's hardly civil. Personally I'll be purchasing one of these tin foil hats [slashdot.org] , thank you very much.

Protect yourself! (-1, Redundant)

Blasphemy (78348) | more than 10 years ago | (#5854708)

Get out your tin foil hats!

Block out those evil government scanning rays.

And we always thought those guys were crayzy...

Farfetched (0)

X00M (526040) | more than 10 years ago | (#5854715)

This seems a bit farfetched for my taste...Brian scan??? does that really work? doesnt seem like it but then again weirder things have happened!

X00M

Re:Farfetched (1)

stratjakt (596332) | more than 10 years ago | (#5854777)

Brainscanning is on par with the turn-of-the-century shit they used to do with the calipers to measure certain parts of your head.

Like if you had a lump on the back right you were good at math, etc, etc..

What was that called again? Cephanology or something?

Right now they can get an image of a brain, and say "hey, in 11 out of 20 tries, this part of the brain lights up when looking at a penis - this must be the Gaymocampus".

It can locate tumors and other abnormalities, but it's a long, long, long way from being anything meaningful an employer could use against someone.

Re:Farfetched (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#5854845)

"Homocampus" would be a better name for it.

Phrenology.... (1)

FirstNoel (113932) | more than 10 years ago | (#5854851)

Or something like that.

The study of bumps on the head. Certain places were good, other places meant you were a psychopath.

Sean D.

Re:Farfetched (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#5854858)

This seems a bit farfetched for my taste...Brian scan??? does that really work?

A "Brian" scan? Would Brian _really_ let you scan him? I don't think so!

Ethics my ass (-1, Flamebait)

dsanfte (443781) | more than 10 years ago | (#5854733)

It'd be nice to find that terrorist or serial killer walking among us with technology like this.

The bleeding-heart privacy advocates can go cry in the corner as they always do. Nobody cares that you pick your nose when you're all alone.

Re:Ethics my ass (2, Funny)

Scrameustache (459504) | more than 10 years ago | (#5854913)

It will also be doubleplusgood to be able to identify thought criminals with technology like this.

The bleeding-hearts freedom of thought advocates can spend a while in room 101 of the ministry of love as they always do.

Re:Ethics my ass (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#5854997)

I'm starting to see why everyone with a non-conformist viewpoint checks the AC box. Ninja hippie moderators walk among us.

Frightening (5, Insightful)

beatniklew (623731) | more than 10 years ago | (#5854734)

The part that makes this the most frightening is that we've seen recently how far people are willing to go if they think that security is at hand. The Patriot Act and Patriot II (return of the civil liberty abuses), both passed with widespread support, just because people were scared. With the right amount of fear, this technology will not only be allowed, but mandated in usage to screen for "potential security risks"

Re:Frightening (1)

Blaine Hilton (626259) | more than 10 years ago | (#5854774)

This should be modded up! This is the exact point I was trying to make (and probably failed) This may help find a few of the bad guys, but at what price?

Re:Frightening (1)

HeelToe (615905) | more than 10 years ago | (#5854804)

Don't take this in any way shape or form as support from me for any of the draconian measures the US gov't has put into place, but I wasn't aware Patriot II passed. Do you have something to back this up? Thanks.

Already been used in court (1)

itchyfidget (581616) | more than 10 years ago | (#5855023)

I believe this sort of technology is/was being used in a legal case in Florida (trying to find reference but no luck so far).

I have already posted my reservations about using the technology as a lie-detector, but that won't necessarily stop people from doing it if they think it can "prevent terrorism".

Which means we're all stuffed, because there is no such thing as reliable brain-reading.

Two words... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#5854742)

Thought Police!

Two more words... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#5854882)

Double think.

irony (5, Insightful)

Joe the Lesser (533425) | more than 10 years ago | (#5854744)

Could soldiers be screened for homosexuality?

I always find it ironic that technologies created by open-mindedness have to ability to empower the narrow-minded.

Re:irony (-1, Troll)

fobbman (131816) | more than 10 years ago | (#5854955)

You really don't believe that the narrow-minded are smart enough on their own to come up with this stuff, do ya?

Whenever the narrow-minded claim to come up with technology this good, it is bound to have a certain amount of "back of the comic book" technology involved.

Non-story. (0, Offtopic)

Hayzeus (596826) | more than 10 years ago | (#5854745)

This is exactly why I keep a lock on the download port. Remember, physical security is your last line of defense...

Uh Oh (4, Funny)

theBraindonor (577245) | more than 10 years ago | (#5854746)

Now my boss will know how burned-out and disgruntled I have become... I'm so screwed...

Re:Uh Oh (1)

Thud457 (234763) | more than 10 years ago | (#5854940)

Yeah, he'll discover that you're the least burned out and disgruntled employee he has. So he'll dump a whole slew of new work on your ass!

Dang it... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#5854753)

Problem now is that I can't back up my brain, reformat it with an encrypted file system, and then restore everything...

Re:Dang it... (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 10 years ago | (#5854883)

Problem now is that I can't back up my brain, reformat it with an encrypted file system, and then restore everything...

File system, Pffft. My brain uses a relational database!

Re:Dang it... (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 10 years ago | (#5854968)

Problem now is that I can't back up my brain, reformat it with an encrypted file system, and then restore everything...

1. Back up brain
2. Reformat head
3. Encrypt file system
4. Try to load back in
5. DMCA lawyers stops you
6. Profit? What's a "profit"?

Damn thot: A beowulf cluster of Bill Gates's

Could soldiers be screened for homosexuality? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#5854754)

>> Could soldiers be screened for homosexuality?

You just need a Gaydar unit, none of this crap.

THis is already being done, to a certan degree. (3, Interesting)

Unknown Poltroon (31628) | more than 10 years ago | (#5854755)

REad the book out ther "profiler" I think thats the name. HEs one of the guys who works out the psychologal profile of wanted murders and serial killers. He basically claims that he can tell who a serial killer is just by the fact that they follow his profile.

Its getting to the point where any variaton from the median of society is being seen as wrong, or a disease. Speaking as an outlier, fuck you.

Re:THis is already being done, to a certan degree. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#5854814)

well i hope you get fucking killed by a serial killer, of course after they kill anyone you care about first asshole. Eat a dick and choke on it.

what you are fearing... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#5854767)

isn't that someone is invading your precious privacy. What you are afraid of is that someone can peer into your mind and see what a twisted demented fuck you really are inside, Michael.

People are afraid of the truth...if people couldn't hide from their own thoughts, they'd be faced to deal with the lies they live, and perhaps actually have to consider change.

Re:what you are fearing... (1)

gurps_npc (621217) | more than 10 years ago | (#5855029)

Unless you personally have lived inside Michael's Brain, you are just guessing, based on NOWHERE near sufficient evidence, and making a really strong opinion based on it.

Yes some twisted people are afraid of the truth.

But MORE of us are afraid of shmucks like you that base strong opinions on silly things like what they post on the net. If you came to that kind of decsions from what you see on the net, I certainly do NOT want to see what kind of fanatical, descion you will make when you think you can read someone's mind.

I am far more afraid of what people will try to do to me because of their own demonic fears than dealing with the "lies" I live.

It's a lot easier,,, (3, Insightful)

DeepDarkSky (111382) | more than 10 years ago | (#5854772)

to figure out what is going on in someone's head by looking at the things that the person does or say, the external manifestations of a person's thoughts. If you are concerned about your "brain privacy", just don't talk to people, post on Slashdot or a personal blog, don't write letters or emails, etc.

DMCA (5, Funny)

wowbagger (69688) | more than 10 years ago | (#5854779)

I'm sorry, but I hold the copyright over my brain and the information therein, and your brain scanner is an unlawful circumvention device under the DMCA.

My lawyers will be calling.

Covered in a SF book (3, Informative)

koreth (409849) | more than 10 years ago | (#5854787)

This sort of thing is the premise of a book I read a few years back, The Truth Machine [amazon.com] by James Halperin. The premise is that someone develops a brain scanner that can tell with absolute certainty whether someone is lying. Halperin paints a pretty optimistic picture of the results; I think he underestimates how profoundly uneasy this kind of thing would make people, but I think he's right on the money in predicting that if such a device existed and were available at an affordable price, there'd be no stopping the spread of it and no avoiding its profound impact on the way society works.

I'm one of the folks who feels uneasy, but on the other hand I'm not quite sure I can bring myself to believe that the potential harm of some of these developments outweighs the benefits -- if the technology can be applied in both directions, not just by the police. If I can quiz a politician on what his real motivations were for passing a law and be assured that he's not dodging the question, it might not be quite as onerous to be unable to lie about breaking it. But even with that thought in mind, I'm still uneasy.

"I was always secretly against the _____" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#5854788)

Now they can find out for real. Scary, innit?

Brain Privacy... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#5854790)

From the article...

"'Perhaps child molesters and other criminals in the future will wear headgear that will monitor that brain region in order to determine when their intentions will be carried out,'' Hinrichs wrote. ''Would this be a reasonable method of crime prevention or a human rights violation?''"

A Human rights violation, in the spirit of 'Saving the Children'.

Wow! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#5854791)

Slashdot has just read my mind!!!!

Definitely not good... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#5854795)

Every employer in America would get slapped with a huge sexual harassment suit. Hell, my pervo thoughts alone are good for at least $4mil in suffering to the hot chicks in my building.

I always thought... (1)

sigep_ohio (115364) | more than 10 years ago | (#5854825)

that since every brain is wired a little differently, that the scanners would have to be calibrated to each individual. This would prevent mass scanning of people, unless everyones baseline brain scan was on file. Though it would not prevent companies from requiring brain scans like they do drug screening.

Just impratical (1)

lysium (644252) | more than 10 years ago | (#5854832)

Wage slaves can breathe easy for a little while. Tests like this would be so fantasically expensive that most companies would not bother to screen prospective employees (depending on the organization....there can be hundreds at a time) in this fashion. You might see this in sensitive/high-responsibility environments, but I laugh at the idea of tightfisted companies brain-scanning their cubicle drones or factory workers.

Worry more about health information getting leaked. Or about how a good handwriting sample (or signature!)can essentially reveal the same information.

----------

Simple solution (1)

grub (11606) | more than 10 years ago | (#5854841)


1: Mind control police run towards you
2: Press double-barrelled 12 gauge shotgun to forehead
3: Squeeze trigger.
4: Laugh all the way to the morgue.

sounds like mind rape (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#5854899)

or more specifically, i once had a priest stick his penis up my buttocks.

moron having yOUR brain re-packed with.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#5854901)

bullonlyus greed/fear based ?pr? FUDgeCycles(tm)
re-posted from an earlier, as yet un-re-scored post.

this [oxnix.com]
was extracted buy using an eyecon0meter(gpl) scan of this
site, before & after application of va lairIE's patentdead
corepirate ?pr? PostBlock(tm) device.

all for a little more monIE?

let the music pay?

eXPplain US away as pairannoyed if you will?

Brain scan! (0, Troll)

56ksucks (516942) | more than 10 years ago | (#5854906)

There is no reason to fear for your brain privacy, in fact there is no such thing as a brain scan! It is all lies! Even if there were those who could perform a brain scan, there aren't, but if their were, they have all commited suicide under the walls of Baghdad! We are not afraid of the brain scan, allah has condemned them, they are stupid. They are stupid..... and they are condemned. We welcome them with bullets and shoes!

-Iraqi Information Minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf

Re:Brain scan! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#5854919)

that's so 2 weeks ago.

Re:Brain scan! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#5854975)

*nod* on top of that, it's not even funny..

This is rediculous (4, Informative)

DJStealth (103231) | more than 10 years ago | (#5854914)

This is rediculous, I'm doing some work on neurobiology wrt attention for my CS Masters in Computer Vision. From reading some of the recent research, I don't think the field of neurobiology is anywhere close to being able to determine such concepts from an fMRI or anything similar.

Re:This is rediculous (1)

DJStealth (103231) | more than 10 years ago | (#5855014)

Some of the probs with fMRI are as follows:

- You would willingly have to enter this machine
- Its too big and bulky
- It is too slow to detect many changes in brain activity

(Can anyone who works with these things expand on my list?)

The Truth Machine (1)

IIRCAFAIKIANAL (572786) | more than 10 years ago | (#5854922)

Fuck ethics, this is bigger than that. It's an entire shift in the human experience.

If everyone has this technology, we would probably no longer care about privacy. We want privacy because some of us (rightfully!) have something to hide, such as being gay.

But if everyone can read each other's minds, the need disappears because every last one of us would be laid bare before our peers. How do you discriminate if everyone is a "pervert"?

Now, if the government (the big bad government :)gets this type of technology but common people don't, then we have reason to panic.

All the more reason to pursue this technology agressively - if it's inevitable, it's one thing that we better all have!

However, there are good counter-arguments. We all have thoughts like "Man, I'd like to beat that guy up" even though we don't mean it later on.

Would we eventually lose "free will" and become automatons that are incapable of thinking outside the societal mores?

Is lying fundamental to humanity? Or would we be better off without it?

Ow, my brain hurts.

cause-effect, but not necessarily racism (1)

UCRowerG (523510) | more than 10 years ago | (#5854925)

the amygdala, which generates and registers fear and is also associated with emotional learning, lit up more when students were shown unfamiliar black faces than unfamiliar white faces.

How does this automatically indicate unconscious racism? I'm sure there could be other possible reasons for the reaction. How about that trying to process and recognize faces of a different race is usually more difficult than faces of one's own race [nature.com] ?

Space Odyssey revisited (1)

dj_paulgibbs (619622) | more than 10 years ago | (#5854927)

Reminds me of the braincaps. Clarke portrays them as originally hotly controversial, but then accepted into daily use.

Crime Prevention vs. Human Rights (1)

sssmashy (612587) | more than 10 years ago | (#5854929)

'Perhaps child molesters and other criminals in the future will wear headgear that will monitor that brain region in order to determine when their intentions will be carried out,'' Hinrichs wrote. ''Would this be a reasonable method of crime prevention or a human rights violation?'

I'm leaning toward reasonable method of crime prevention for convicted child molesters, rapists and violent criminals who are on parole. It could turn out to be awkward as far as social rehabilitation goes, though... I mean, who would want to stand next in line to some guy with brain-scanning headgear at the bank?

The Spartans (5, Insightful)

RatBastard (949) | more than 10 years ago | (#5854937)

Could soldiers be screened for homosexuality?


You know what's really funny about this? The most feared army in Greek times, the Spartans, were all gay. Many of them fighting shoulder to shoulder with their lovers.

Re:The Spartans (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#5854966)

They need to be all gay, or all straight.

Soldiers in combat need to trust each other completely. You cant have infighting in a unit because Pvt Chauncey told Sgt Butch he has a nice ass. You cant have Pvt Chauncey left to die with no backup because he's gay.

The openly gay have no place in a cohesive trusting unit.

Well (1)

Timesprout (579035) | more than 10 years ago | (#5854945)

They can already detect the bearded, lank haired unwashed, clothes filled with pizza crumbs and Jolt stains, Linux geeks from a mile off with fairly unsophisticated hardware already so it makes sense they go after everyone else now.

Seriously though this is becoming a disturbing trend. It used to be you were interviewed and that was the determining factor. Now its a gazillion interviews, medical tests, security interviews, psych profiles etc. This just seems like the next step when the tech becomes available, much as I despise the intrusion.

The stupid is part all this will be for some crap position. Do these companies realise that by offering me a tech arch contract they are not setting me on my way to galactic domination, its just another fucking contract to keep my bank manager happy!.

Airport Scans, cognitive liberty, LOTS more info (1)

SolemnDragon (593956) | more than 10 years ago | (#5854952)

This is not new information. They've been talking about implementing this at airports. The problem is... the first time they hit an armed forces vet with a steel plate in their head... they're screwed. Privacy issues under the name of 'terrorism protection' are going to get a real shot of reality wehn they realise that these privacy invasions aren't going to work for everyone. And the problem is that hitting a metal plate with magnetism DOES DAMAGE, it doesn't just block out the, um, well, i guess in this case, they ARE government rays....

last year's philadelphia Inquirer story [cmu.edu] talks about fMRI research as replacing the polygraph, and Cognitive Liberty [cognitiveliberty.org] has the best set of links if you want more info. Frankly, i advise you to check it out, because this is not new, and This will be checking you out soon.

What a load.... (2, Interesting)

bcollier06 (667189) | more than 10 years ago | (#5854962)

That was one of the most poorly researched articles I've read about brain imaging. When will magazines and newspapers stop hyping up a technology that will never deliever the big brother scenarios they try to drum up ratings with....... For starters, MRI doesn't measure brain activity!

MRI imaging can only measure blood flow in a certain area, not the actual eletrical impulses of your brain. The way it works is by using huge magnetic pulses it forces all that wonderful iron-rich blood in your head to align in a certain orientation. After that, it essentially lets the "flash-magnetized" blood sink back out of alignment. Where your brain is working it's hardest (continually using "fresh" blood), it takes the longest for the blood to fall out of alignment relative to the rest of your sleepy noggin because of the increased iron content.

That is only the first step to getting those pretty magazine studies which most of the time are mere pseudo-science.

MRI has HORRIBLE temporal resolution. Anyone who has ever sat for an eternity in one of these machines knows this....It's the exact reverse problem of an EKG or similar system. An EKG is excellent at recording when electrical activity in the brain occurs, except for the fact that you have little or no idea where in the brain it is occuring. With MRI you get to find out exactly where in the brain this blood-consuming activity is occuring, but it takes considerably longer than instantaneous... COnsidering that most brain processes occur in under 250ms, this is like shooting in the dark. Only by repetative exposure to a given stimulus can you even hope to gain usable results...

Nor do the inaccuracies end there. After you've collected all of this wonderful MRI data from multiple test subjects (Doing a single on would be completely usualess as individual brain topology can vary) you need to compute thresholds, percent differences, and generally massage the data however you would like! The kicker is that most of these "scientific studies" never share the number crunching with any other group of scientists for independant verification..They just smile, show the pictures, and recieve the avalanche of funding.

Now I don't mean to suggest that MRI as a technology is without merit, but when you look at its limitations it can only produce useful data on a limited number of things. (Like FFA research, etc.) It certainly can't read the contents of your thoughts.

Now, even 50 years down the road if Mr. Executive placed an ultra-fine grid of sensors inside your skull, chances are you would still be safe for a long, long time. Staring at localized electrical impulses and trying to discover the functional equivalence of neural networks in a system as complex as the human brain is going to take a while.

Re:What a load.... (1)

ProlificSage (564094) | more than 10 years ago | (#5855031)

An EKG is excellent at recording when electrical activity in the brain occurs

I believe you mean EEG or electroencephalogram. An EKG is an electrocardiogram, which measures electrical activity in the heart. You do make some excellent points, though.

Neuroethics (2, Insightful)

DoNotTauntHappyFunBa (592447) | more than 10 years ago | (#5854999)

some predict this will be a bigger ethical issue than genetics

That makes sense. I expect that your brain is much more likely than your DNA to determine your behavior. However, DNA can be fully sequenced right now. I would bet we're a long way off from being able to fully map a human brain.

Also, I think that much of the expectation of the privacy of one's thoughts is founded on the fact that today nobody else can be sure what those thoughts are. The examples in the article are fairly crude tools related to activity in a certain area of the brain. Care certainly will need to be taken with any potential use of these tools. Taking it to the extreme of real-time mind-reading will be a different thing entirely.

There is no way to stop this (1)

ebusinessmedia1 (561777) | more than 10 years ago | (#5855011)

The ability to 'read' cognitive states will not only happen - as it already has in some medical applications - but will be used by government and private industry alike. This is guaranteed to happen as long as large institutional entities need personal information - gained from monitoring - to hedge against various risks to their respective enterprises.

Ray Kurzweil and others (Vernor Vinge among them) talk about a technological 'singularity' that is fast (exponentially) approaching. It's a place where technologies like the one discussed in the article begin to progress so fast that there is no way to keep full track of, or control them.
Cognitive scanning is simply another one of those technologies.

Imagine that you're living 20 years in the future when genetic testing and cognitive scans help an insurance company - or the government (if we ever get universal health care) - predict your propensity for violent behavior. Can you imagine tests and monitoring like this *not* being performed at the individual level - especially if they're truly predictive, and can result in intervention, thus 'saving' you and the 'insuring' agency from relative pain? I can 'imagine' that they won't, but they will; the system will demand it.

We are moving at breakneck speed toward a fundamental change in what we perceive to be human. This will begin to happen - as it already has - in ways that seem to violate everything most humans in free societies hold dear - privacy, individual rights and liberties, etc.

The only way to prevent this sort of thing from being truly disruptive is to build some kind of 'meta-monitoring' into medical, and other surveillance technologies that give individuals the right to 'review and change/question' the data that has been collected on them - including all cognitive monitoring.

Again, the problem is that these technologies are progressing at faster and faster rates. I doubt that most individuals (including legislators) have even the faintest idea about how to move on these issues because everyone is still perceiving change in many of these areas as moving at a linear rate, instead of the exponential rate represented by the steadily upward-sloping curve of technology development.

The question looms. Will we be able to get a grip on this stuff before it is so well insinuated into culture that future humans take it for granted, with all that implies? The times, they are a'changin'

It's what makes us who we are. (1)

LorneReams (597769) | more than 10 years ago | (#5855030)

The entire ideal that allows us to live and grow, is the knowledge that no matter what we may think, it is our actions that define who we are. Take that away, and you might as well take away our individuality and return to the hive. Also, I know people that buy and sell medical information for next to nothing to sell to spammers. Do you want all your personal preferences available to anyone? I don't trust people with the info they have on me NOW, how can I trust people with the potential to have any information they so choose (SSN, PINs, Phone #'s, ect.)
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