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Brain Scanner Can Read People's Intentions

CowboyNeal posted more than 7 years ago | from the you-might-be-up-to-something dept.

Biotech 338

Vainglorious Coward writes "Reality continues to catch up with Nineteen Eighty-Four with the announcement of the development of a brain scanner that can read a person's intentions. 'It's like shining a torch around, looking for writing on a wall,' said the leader of the project, Professor John-Dylan Haynes . Demonstrating his own mastery of doublethink, Haynes continued 'We see the danger that this might become compulsory one day, but we have to be aware that if we prohibit it, we are also denying people who aren't going to commit any crime the possibility of proving their innocence.'"

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338 comments

Pfft. (4, Funny)

gardyloo (512791) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945520)

Not without cracking my DRM, you bastards!

Re:Pfft. (5, Funny)

gardyloo (512791) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945546)

I knew you were going to post that! Ha-ha!

*disappears in a puff of logic*

Re:Pfft. (1)

Yetihehe (971185) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945892)

I'm sure only some black marker will be necesssary ;)

Taking it to the next level. (-1, Troll)

nonorganon (1009761) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945526)

CNN HQ Stormed By Elite GNAA Operatives, Classified 9/11 Information Broadcast CNN HQ Stormed By Elite GNAA Operatives, Classified 9/11 Information Broadcast pagga (GNAP) - Manchester, Afghanistan Following a covert infiltration of their Tel-Aviv headquarters by a crack team of elite GNAA agents, Zionist news organization CNN today publicly declassified top-secret information regarding the September 11 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center, information which was until now actively supressed by the Zionist Occupied Governments of the West. Thousands of jewish viewers across America choked on their evening halvah (muslim babies) as, in a primetime broadcast, Paula Zahn (herself a latent jew) was forced at dongpoint to reveal the awful truth behind the 9/11 attacks which the rest of the civilized (read: non-judaic) world has long suspected: Jews Did WTC. Fast-forwarding past the 1080p CP on the greasy HD-DVD handed to them by bedpan, the CNN production team played back the devastating GNAA-compiled footage whilst Paula Zahn held back a rectal prolapse to present their findings. Irrefutable proof from highly credible sources (such as regarded public information portals jewsdidwtc.com & Encyclopedia Dramatica) was disclosed in order to finally put an end to the debate. In the interests of equal representation, a token jew was present for the post-footage discussion, together with a panel of gay niggers. In the unlikely event that you missed this historic broadcast, it has been archived at JewTube. Want to know more? See the proof for yourself @ http://www.jewsdidwtc.com/ [jewsdidwtc.com] and Encyclopedia Dramatica.

Minority Report and other Sci-Fi (4, Interesting)

Reverse Gear (891207) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945538)

Well they still have some way to go before they reach Minority Report levels.

As for interrogating people I guess it would not so much be their intentions as if whether they are telling the truth or not that is interesting.
A scanning would probably take quite some time and involve people being questioned at the same time.
Of course there are big ethical questions in this, I guess the anti-terror people in CIA and FBI would be quite interested in getting their hands on this technique, that is if they don't already use it.

One scary place this could be used was to check religious beliefs, in some countries you are prohibited to believe anything else than what the state dictates.

The intention part would also efficiently could be used for directing different robotics, as for example a fighter plane, which I seem to recall they have been working with something like this for the pilots for quite some time, to save the reaction time from the hand brain to pushing the button or whatever. I do remember some sci-fi movie about this at some point, but it is about to become reality also it seems.

Re: Minority Report and other Sci-Fi (2, Informative)

dostojevski78 (1004267) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945656)

The movie is probably the 1982 epic masterpiece (...) "Firefox", starring Clint Eastwood as the former POW Vietnam veteran who steals the USSR's newest toy: An incredibly high tech fighter jet. I don't recal iff the scene is part of the film, but i do recall a scene from the original book where the built in brain wave detectors in Mjr. Gant's pilot helmet picks up his desperat wish to shoot down a plane behind him, thus firing the anti-anti-air flares system and downing (!) the pursuting jet. The film is an exelent example of why actors should leave the director's chair to someone else by the way... http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0083943/ [imdb.com]

Re: Minority Report and other Sci-Fi (0)

pubjames (468013) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945702)

One scary place this could be used was to check religious beliefs, in some countries you are prohibited to believe anything else than what the state dictates.

Which countries are those? I know it certainly has been the case in the past, but I can't think of any country in which people are forced to follow a particular religion these days.

Re: Minority Report and other Sci-Fi (1, Flamebait)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945790)

israel - it's whole purpose is to be the jewish "homeland", and you can't live there if you aren't

Re: Minority Report and other Sci-Fi (4, Interesting)

ChameleonDave (1041178) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945942)

That's not quite true.

Okay, being Jewish gets you citizenship in Israel, making Jewish foreigners and their children the majority of current citizens. However, the Israelis did not ethnically cleanse all of the original inhabitants: a minority of Muslims, Christians and Druze still live there.

A better candidate for a state with a required religion is probably the Vatican, whose 600 citizens are all Roman Catholic, mainly clerics.

But this question of states with a compulsory religion is a bit of a red herring. The real danger with this technology is repressive states in general. What if all dark-skinned foreign nationals entering US airports have to take this glorified polygraph in order to check for unAmerican thoughts? What if Tony Blair decides that all new UK citizens need this machine to verify whether their oath of the allegiance to Liz Windsor is genuine?

Re: Minority Report and other Sci-Fi (2, Interesting)

pryonic (938155) | more than 7 years ago | (#17946116)

A scary thought indeed for me, a British republican (in the end the monarchy sense, not in a GOP sense).

Fortunately we as Brits aren't forced to swear an allegiance to the Queen or even to the country. That kind of indoctrination into patriotism is unknown here,unlike certain other countries I can name. I'd rather be proud of my actions and their outcomes rather than be proud of an accident of birth.

Re: Minority Report and other Sci-Fi (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17946210)

>A better candidate for a state with a required religion is probably the Vatican, whose 600 citizens are all Roman Catholic, mainly clerics.

To become a citizen of the Vatican you have to be a Roman Catholic cleric - you certainly are not going to be a citizen by virtue of birth.

Re: Minority Report and other Sci-Fi (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17945818)

How about persecution of Bahá'ís in Iran [wikipedia.org] ? Or the United States' current persecution of people following Native American religious ceremonies? [wikipedia.org] Just because you keep yourself ignorant of such things doesn't mean that they don't exist.

Re: Minority Report and other Sci-Fi (2, Insightful)

ComaVN (325750) | more than 7 years ago | (#17946224)

Let me get this straight: specifically giving an exemption to acts for the protection of endangered species, so a minority can continue performing their religious rituals, qualifies as persecution these days?

I want what you're smoking.

Re: Minority Report and other Sci-Fi (3, Informative)

bri2000 (931484) | more than 7 years ago | (#17946048)

In many Muslim countries apostasy is a crime punishable with death.

Re: Minority Report and other Sci-Fi (5, Informative)

pubjames (468013) | more than 7 years ago | (#17946092)

From Wikipedia:

Today apostasy is punishable by death in the countries of Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Iran, Sudan, Afghanistan, Mauritania, the Comoros and, most likely, Iraq. Similarly, blasphemy is punishable by death in Pakistan. In Qatar apostasy is a capital offense, but no executions have been reported for it.

Germany, for one (0, Flamebait)

srussia (884021) | more than 7 years ago | (#17946162)

There, you must believe in the Holocaust.

Re: Minority Report and other Sci-Fi (1)

Drantin (569921) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945820)

Macross Plus? Seems there's more than one movie that uses the idea...

The likely future for this (3, Insightful)

Speed Pour (1051122) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945906)

Seriously, once you ignore the helpful details of this technology (helping disabled people, or performing real scientific studies), you're only really left with a technology that's not far separated from a lie detector (and likely to have the same success rate and ease of cheating). The results of one of these things will not be admissible in court and it will be VERY easy to cheat it.

I really look forward to seeing the results of this machine tested on clinically defined sociopaths, psychotics, and delusionals who will no doubt prove the machine incapable of accurate results on them. Once those with mental illness disprove it, most mental health spokesmen will be denouncing the technology because they believe almost all humans have varied degrees of these illnesses already.

Briefly about MR: I think there's another large separation here. Actually, a couple. First, Minority Report was only about preventing murder and rape. All other crime was untouched (and even rising). Another distinction is that Minority Report assumes the lack of lawyers and a courtroom, which might be more justified considering their technique relies on psychics, which are theoretically (in cinema) more accurate.

Re:The likely future for this (1)

megrims (839585) | more than 7 years ago | (#17946102)

(... performing real scientific studies)
As opposed to the other kind?

Re:The likely future for this (1)

Speed Pour (1051122) | more than 7 years ago | (#17946188)

(... performing real scientific studies)
As opposed to the other kind?
Sure, Scientists Offered Cash to Dispute Climate Study [slashdot.org] for example :)

There's real science and there's pop science. You can be certain that this tech will inspire boatloads of pop-sci for a while, especially when this will surely be used to (re-)prove what males want from females. Eventually there are going to be some people who do something useful and valid with this.

Re:The likely future for this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17946184)

murder and rape.

In the film it is just murder, I've not read the short story, but Wiki seams to suggest also just murder, not rape.

Re:The likely future for this (1)

foobsr (693224) | more than 7 years ago | (#17946242)

... will be denouncing the technology because they believe almost all humans have varied degrees of these illnesses already.

A fact sheet describing the prevalence of mental disorders in America. [nih.gov] (Quote: "Mental disorders are common in the United States and internationally. An estimated 26.2 percent of Americans ages 18 and older -- about one in four adults -- suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder in a given year.").

Come to your own conclusions.

CC.

Re: Minority Report and other Sci-Fi (2, Funny)

cheater512 (783349) | more than 7 years ago | (#17946004)

Oh no! My tin foil hat ripped! They now know that I want to take over the world. My plans are ruined!

The quote espouses a fallacy (4, Insightful)

Curien (267780) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945544)

You cannot prove innocence. That's why our verdicts are "guilty" and "not guilty". As much as you can prove anything about reality, you can only show that an event occured; you'll be hard pressed to show that it never did, and it's at least approaching the impossible to show that it wasn't /going to/ happen. Not to mention that intentions and actions are two very different things.

This is a scary, scary device. Props to the submitter for recognizing the professor's justification as doublethink.

Re:The quote espouses a fallacy (1)

Vainglorious Coward (267452) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945590)

Props

You're very kind, sir. Or madam.

Re:The quote espouses a fallacy (5, Insightful)

MoralHazard (447833) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945662)

You cannot prove innocence. That's why our verdicts are "guilty" and "not guilty".

These two statements are not logically related. Did you mean them to be? Our verdicts are "guilty" and "not guilty" because under the U.S. system you must be indicted for a crime, at which point you are presumed innocent. The logical question at trial is not "is he innocent", but "is he guilty".

You can "prove" innocence to the same, imperfect degree that you "prove" guilt: by presenting evidence to that conclusion. A strong, defensible alibi is evidence of innocence, while eyewitness accounts are evidence of guilt. We never formally "prove" guilt in a court, at least not in the mathematical sense--even when sending someone to the Electric Chair, we're merely "pretty sure he's guilty". There's nothing stopping us from creating a hypothetical where U.S. courts presume guilt, and it's up to you to prove your innocence once you've been charged.

We don't do that because it's stupid in practice--we want to limit the power of those in government, and a "presumed guilty" system encourages abuses of prosecution. It's just too easy to put the mechanisms of the state in service of tyranny, which is kind of what the people that founded this country were trying to avoid. But this has *nothing* to do with whether guilt or innocence can be proven, formally.

Re:The quote espouses a fallacy (2, Informative)

kfg (145172) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945880)

But this has *nothing* to do with whether guilt or innocence can be proven, formally.


You're both right to an extent. The people who founded our innocent until proven guilty system had in many cases themselves experienced the abuse of power the government/your neighbor could have by a presumption of guilt; by discovering the logical impossibility of proving their innocence. See the Salem Witch Trials which stayed fresh in the minds of Americans for generations, which are the gensis of the system.

The abuse of power derives from the fact that charges can be levied in which no evidence based defense is possible under a presumption of guilt. Like, say, that you are a witch. It is Habeas Corpus and the procedures of bail that protect against legally unjust incarceration, which existed even before the presumption of innocence (and there are many places with legal systems based on British common law that still hold to a presumption of liability in civil cases. That is why James Randi is now an American citizen).

However, "Guilty" and "Innocent" are both terms of legal presumption, not statements of actual fact. Nothing is "proven" per se. A judge/jury render a verdict. A legal finding. Which is legally binding. This is why in certain unusual cases you can have two people each serving time for being the sole perpetrator of a crime.

It's also why it's perfectly ok to know that O.J. did it. His innocence is legal, not factual.

KFG

Re:The quote espouses a fallacy (2, Informative)

CmdrGravy (645153) | more than 7 years ago | (#17946240)

In Scotland there is a 3rd possible outcome from prosecutions; Not Proven which means the defendant is probably guilty but there isn't enough evidence to prove it.

Re:The quote espouses a fallacy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17945668)

Mod parent up!

Re:The quote espouses a fallacy (2, Funny)

suv4x4 (956391) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945704)

Not to mention that intentions and actions are two very different things.

Yep, you know they say: Life is what happens while you're planning a mass massacre.

Re:The quote espouses a fallacy (4, Funny)

Bloke down the pub (861787) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945780)

This is a scary, scary device.
Don't be silly, it can't do anything that a wife can't do. Hmmm, on second thoughts...

Re:The quote espouses a fallacy (1)

khb (266593) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945792)

My, how US centric can we get. The traditional Scottish Legal system had "Guilty" "Not Proven" and "Innocent". Arguably this is a more logical arrangement than the US system of Guilty|Not and double jeopardy attaching to either (logically Guilty|Innocent should have double jeopardy applying, but "Not Proven" would lend itself quite well to a retrial).

Just because the US has embraced a false binary choice doesn't mean it's a logical necessity.

Re:The quote espouses a fallacy (1)

Curien (267780) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945966)

Yes, I embrace my Amero-centrism.

We have "mistrials" and "hung juries" which may or may not be similar to the Scottish "not proven". But "guilty" or "not guilty" is not a false dichotomy. The purpose of a trial is not to establish innocence -- it is only to prove guilt, if possible, and to acquit in all other cases. If we had notions that acquitals equated to a proof of innocence, /then/ we'd have a false dichatomy.

Re:The quote espouses a fallacy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17946226)

And to add to Curien's reply....

The "Not Guilty" verdict was also intended as way for the People(i.e. the jury) to say the law was unjust or being applied unjustly.

Proving your innocence? (1)

mcvos (645701) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945888)

we have to be aware that if we prohibit it, we are also denying people who aren't going to commit any crime the possibility of proving their innocence.

Innocence shouldn't need to be proven. Innocence is assumed until guilt is proven.

Re:Proving your innocence? (1)

Curien (267780) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945950)

I'm kinda playing devil's advocate here, but proving innocense (if such a thing were possible) is surely the best way to disprove guilt.

Re:The quote espouses a fallacy (1)

Canadian_Daemon (642176) | more than 7 years ago | (#17946044)

I believe in Mens rea

Re:The quote espouses a fallacy (1)

Canadian_Daemon (642176) | more than 7 years ago | (#17946062)

I believe that a country which uses due process in their legal systems require two things to be proven, actus reus (the guilty act) and some form of mens rea (the guilty mind) what people are proposing is convicting a person with only half of this proven. In our current legal system there is no way this could happen.

Re:The quote espouses a fallacy (1)

Joebert (946227) | more than 7 years ago | (#17946154)

What I think we all want to know is, if this thing was to show that someones intention really was to "save the world", could they get away with assinating a politician ?

GITS interface (1)

stas2k (951288) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945562)

Wake me up when well have GITS-like cyberbrain interfaces. ^__^

Re:GITS interface (1)

gardyloo (512791) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945594)

Wake me up when well have GITS-like cyberbrain interfaces. ^__^

        Mmmm... Natalie Potman and Hot GITS.

Wake me when they invent a mobile MRI (3, Insightful)

3.5 stripes (578410) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945564)

Until then you're going to be sitting in front of a gigantic machine. MRIs aren't small portable or cheap at this moment.. and I don't see them following the computer timeline (from room sized boxen to the same power in a cell phone 30 years from now) any time soon.

Maybe I'm wrong though..

Re:Wake me when they invent a mobile MRI (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17945710)

No good, the other guy [slashdot.org] went to sleep too.

Re:Wake me when they invent a mobile MRI (1)

bagsc (254194) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945726)

MRIs might not be mobile, but neither are inmates...

Re:Wake me when they invent a mobile MRI (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 7 years ago | (#17946114)

I don't exactly think there's a competitive market out there for MRI machine size. Maybe cost, or safety.. but hey, maybe bullshit technology like this is exactly what is needed to attract the government funding needed to make them. I'm all for it.. I can't imagine ever being able to download into a computer until MRI is cheap and available to experimenters.

Re:Wake me when they invent a mobile MRI (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17946236)

The big problem with MRI machines is the amount of magnetic shielding they need. Some big MRI machines would cause all compasses in the radius of a few miles to point at them if they weren't shielded properly.

MRI won't ever be suitable for portable applications, but it does allow follow-up studies to compare the MRI images with other brain imaging techniques which could be made more portable (EEG and the like).

It seems scarcely credible (0, Troll)

Vainglorious Coward (267452) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945578)

It's almost tempting to believe this is simply neuroscientists trolling for DHS dollars - a ruse by those socialised medicine types in Europe to get US military dollars to fund the next generation of MRI technology and practitioners. Fiendish!

Re:It seems scarcely credible (1, Troll)

tgv (254536) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945706)

You're a troll. These people have their own funding and Germany/Europe has more. The Max Planck Gesellschaft has set up institutes likes this to avoid this kind of problem. Just check the facts before submitting. And Siemens and Philips build quite nice scanners, thank you.

No, your precious DHS dollars are safe. Go and fund your own research now.

Re:It seems scarcely credible (1)

Vainglorious Coward (267452) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945754)

your precious DHS dollars are safe

[My emphasis] Whoosh

Re:It seems scarcely credible (1)

Bloke down the pub (861787) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945822)

Just guessing here, but are you German? [boreme.com]

European though (1)

tgv (254536) | more than 7 years ago | (#17946076)

Nope, but you're not far off.

Accesories (2, Interesting)

Neme$y$ (700253) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945598)

allows them to look deep inside a person's brain and read their intentions before they act.
If I carry out the act anyway after they read my intentions, will that make them (neuroscientists) accesories to murder (for example)?

I can see it now... (2, Insightful)

bwd234 (806660) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945602)

"The researchers then used a software that had been designed to spot subtle differences in brain activity to predict the person's intentions with 70% accuracy."

DA: Your Honor, we are 70% certain that the defendant was thinking about maybe shooting the president.
Judge: Guilty! Take the defendant outside and have him shot immediately!

Damn, if there ever was a time to be wearing that tin foil hat...

Guilty... (1)

len_p (782308) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945628)

Guilty of intention of .... In desperate need of a thought suppressor device now! Need to scream [www.len.ro] .

Re:Guilty... (2, Insightful)

Patrik_AKA_RedX (624423) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945912)

Thought suppressor devices are already in every living room. They're called TV.

Very Disturbing (5, Insightful)

Nastard (124180) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945630)

There is, as of yet, no laws prohibiting thinking about commiting a crime. The potential to change this is at least as scary as anything else the government or major corporations are doing to peel off our freedoms.

I'm no tinfoil-hatter, but wow.

Re:Very Disturbing (5, Interesting)

pubjames (468013) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945812)

There is, as of yet, no laws prohibiting thinking about commiting a crime.

I think about commiting crimes quite a bit. How would I rob a bank, for instance? Or "disappear" someone, without getting caught? If my country was occupied by a foreign army, what could I as an individual do to cause maximum damage to it?

These are interesting and fun mental exercises, and of course novel writers think about this kind of stuff all the time. I just do this stuff in my head, and that's where it will stay. It does worry me however that these days it seems the law is beginning to view talking about doing something as if it was proof you will actually do it. If I had a friend that also liked doing this kind of mental exercise, and we discussed this kind of stuff via IRC, for instance, in the not too distant future I could envisage getting a visit from the police, or even ending up in jail, just for talking about stuff.

Re:Very Disturbing (1)

Ihlosi (895663) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945974)

I could envisage getting a visit from the police, or even ending up in jail, just for talking about stuff.



Let me fix that for you:


"I could envisage getting a visit from the police, or even ending up in jail, just for thinking about stuff."



There. You can already get a visit from the police, or end up in jail, or just disappear, for talking about the right stuff.

Re:Very Disturbing (2, Informative)

badfish99 (826052) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945834)

There is, as of yet, no laws prohibiting thinking about commiting a crime.

Only because thinking cannot (yet) be detected. There most certainly are laws against discussing the idea of committing a crime with someone else (i.e. conspiracy). If private thoughts could be detected, it would be a logical extension of this idea to criminalize thinking about a crime even if you planned to do it on your own.

In fact, this has been proposed already: in the UK I've read a suggestion that mentally ill people should be imprisoned, if their illness is such that they are likely to commit some crime in the future.

Re:Very Disturbing (2, Funny)

digitig (1056110) | more than 7 years ago | (#17946072)

If there were a law against thinking of committing a crime, then the thinking itself would be a crime, so you wouldn't get prosecuted for just thinking of committing a crime until they made it illegal to think of thinking of committing a crime. Except that means ... oh, where's Zeno when you need him?

Hmmm (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17945644)

"we are also denying people who aren't going to commit any crime the possibility of proving their innocence."

In a country that follows the principle of "in dubito pro reo" I shouldn't have to prove anything to be regarded as innocent. In the contrary, in such a country the governments ignorance is my bliss.

Re:Hmmm (1)

Lord Duran (834815) | more than 7 years ago | (#17946002)

I don't get it - why do people who are going to commit a crime not innocent? I thought you were only guilty if you already committed the crime...?

Re:Hmmm (1)

Ihlosi (895663) | more than 7 years ago | (#17946020)

I don't get it - why do people who are going to commit a crime not innocent? I thought you were only guilty if you already committed the crime...?

... unless the attempt itself is already illegal.

Re:Hmmm (1)

ericlondaits (32714) | more than 7 years ago | (#17946178)

If you have the intention to attempt an act, you're still innocent until you do.

How long before these tests become mandatory? (1)

gd23ka (324741) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945646)

I see they are already beyond the simple "lie-detector
mode" of the MRI: If you have to think hard about the
answer then obviously you're not recalling from memory
and are therefore lying or at least editing out parts.

This is very disturbing.

-"..it's not going to be that long before we will be able to tell whether someone's making up a story, or whether someone intended to do a crime with a certain degree of certainty."

Imagine what it would be like if - like mandatory drug
testing - you were ordered into a room and attitude-checked
with a helmet? When their work on pattern recognition,
comes to fruition they could easily discover just how much
you hate the government, how much you despise them,
just how disaffected you are and how much you sorely need to
spend the rest of your now very short life in a labor
camp within the arctic circle - classified as a "security
risk" and a suspended death sentence hanging over your head.

I for one tell our MRI-toting Overlords to shove it up their asses.

Re:How long before these tests become mandatory? (1)

Fulcrum of Evil (560260) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945736)

f you have to think hard about the answer then obviously you're not recalling from memory and are therefore lying or at least editing out parts.

You're always editting - this is how memory works. It's also why eyewitnesses are horrible.

Imagine what it would be like if - like mandatory drug testing - you were ordered into a room and attitude-checked with a helmet?

Well, lie detectors are illegal save when done by the government or used for a specific investigation. Of course, those things are voodoo anyway.

When their work on pattern recognition, comes to fruition they could easily discover just how much you hate the government, how much you despise them, just how disaffected you are and how much you sorely need to spend the rest of your now very short life in a labor camp within the arctic circle

Well, hating the feds is only natural once you get to know them, and being disaffected isn't illegal, it's profitable. I'm sure long before this comes to pass I'll have gone on some rampage with a .308. Dare to dream and all that.

Re:How long before these tests become mandatory? (1)

ericlondaits (32714) | more than 7 years ago | (#17946202)

When their work on pattern recognition, comes to fruition they could easily discover just how much you hate the government, how much you despise them, just how disaffected you are and how much you sorely need to spend the rest of your now very short life in a labor camp within the arctic circle - classified as a "security risk" and a suspended death sentence hanging over your head.


Unless your government becomes a totalitarian dictatorship you are free to despise and hate them. Under a democracy the government will have to convince the people that your hate is bad in order to be able to do something about it, and the ugly bit is that they probably will.

I would have added those numbers... (1, Informative)

updog (608318) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945650)

And got away with it, if it wasn't for that meddling brain scanner...

From TFA:

During the study, the researchers asked volunteers to decide whether to add or subtract two numbers they were later shown on a screen.

Before the numbers flashed up, they were given a brain scan using a technique called functional magnetic imaging resonance. The researchers then used a software that had been designed to spot subtle differences in brain activity to predict the person's intentions with 70% accuracy.

Seems like a long ways to go before it could actually recognize anything meaningful...

Re:I would have added those numbers... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17946186)

It's called fMRI (functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging) and is used for a lot more than future subterfuge spotting.

The problem with brain related disorders (such as schizophrenia, alzheimer, epilepsy, and many more) is that they will, very likely, never be treated without scanning the brain. However, brain function is only roughly modular, so every part of the brain will need to be cataloged for function in order to understand the whole, and that catalog should also include the brain area for intentions and "willfull action".

Cutting a lot of corners, it comes down to this: Would you like to have the possibilty that a cure is found for your parents alzheimers disease and your nephews epilepsy, at the (possible) risk that governments have a weapon that will oppress you?

Scene: A Police Lab... (4, Funny)

SteelCat (793238) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945670)

Inspector Plod: "So Doctor, what are the miscreant's intentions?"

Doctor Tinkle: "He intends... 'to get out of this bloody MRI scannner as soon as possible'. Funny, that's exactly what the last twenty seven suspects intended as well."

Don't Scaremonger (4, Insightful)

logicnazi (169418) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945674)

Ohh c'mon people. This is interesting from a brain research perspective but it hardly provides any reason to worry about arresting people for their intentions.

We already have a much more reliable and convenient way to judge people's criminal intent, namely their body language and facial expression. Evolution has nicely provided us a way of distinguishing between your loving significant other who is absently gesturing with the knife he was using to cook and your jilted lover who is coming after you with it. Shop owners pick out people who look like their about to steal all the time. We are just sane enough not to throw people in jail for 'looking suspicious.'

Besides this machine is only set to measure what someone is currently preparing to do (as in seconds) trying to decode someone's long term plans is similar only in that both would require looking at the brain. This story shouldn't really raise anyone's estimate of the feasibility of reading someone's long term plans, or their eventual actions. It's nothing but an excuse for someone to spin a scare story.

In any case if the goal is to jail future criminals decoding their future plans seems wholly besides the point. It would be more effective to try and predict how much impulse control someone has or their resistance to temptation than to figure out if they currently have a plan to commit a criminal act.

--

As an aside I don't see what the doublethink in that comment was. It is true, if we did have a means to demonstrate a lack of intent to say blow up a plane then people who did so wouldn't need to be inconvenienced by all the crazy carry on restrictions. It might not be a compelling argument to use the technology but it isn't 'doublethink'.

Bah (1)

Vainglorious Coward (267452) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945742)

Trust a logicnazic to come and spoil all the fun.

But I still think use of "doublethink" is justified, in the sense of "enjoying the malicious pleasure of the contrast between what one believes to be true and what one knows to be true" [wikipedia.org]

Re:Bah (1)

logicnazi (169418) | more than 7 years ago | (#17946074)

Hmm, didn't know about that second definition.

I'm still not convinced it qualifies but I'll admit it's certainly an arguable usage.

Re:Don't Scaremonger (3, Insightful)

bwd234 (806660) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945902)

"We are just sane enough not to throw people in jail for 'looking suspicious.'"

Have you been living in a cave since Sept. 11, 2001?

Re:Don't Scaremonger (1)

Alioth (221270) | more than 7 years ago | (#17946128)

I think this particular technology is not going to be useful in the 'is he going to blow up a plane' stakes. It doesn't exactly read the patterns in memory and give you a dump, it works more like a lie detector. You can train yourself to give a false result on a lie detector. A plane bomber could easily train themselves to believe with all their being that no, they aren't going to blow up this plane, when actually scanned - then change their intentions once they board.

Short of an actual memory dump, these technologies will always be easily defeated.

Timing issues (5, Informative)

venicebeach (702856) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945678)

I think this is misleading.

Functional MRI measures changes in blood oxygenation, which are indicitave of changes in neural activity. However, the hemodynamic response is slow, peaking about 6 seconds after the changes in neuronal firing rates. The decisions described in the article probably happen within milliseconds. The article is short on details, but what they probably did was analyze the data from the decision moment after the fact and see if they could use it to predict the subsequent action. This is different from actually knowing what someone is going to do before they do it, which is something that is practically impossible with fMRI due to the timing issues.

Perhaps even more fundamental issues (2, Interesting)

Excelcia (906188) | more than 7 years ago | (#17946168)

There are more fundamental issues with this technology than timing. The mapping of different areas of the brain to function is only accurate on a coarse level. The area of the brain that would be activated if the person was going to perform mathematics is known, but we can't differentiate what type of operation the person intended to perform. Testing for different emotions on a gross level is possible, but not the subject of those emotions. At least, not without actively flipping photos past the person. And even then, you'd tell little more than you would by simply looking at much more accessable physisiological responses available with a polygraph.

Sorry, but this is oversensationalized. My guess is that they are trolling for funding.

Interesting but exaggerated (5, Informative)

tgv (254536) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945688)

Ok, I work as a post-doc in the field and actually know the work of Haynes. They are not predicting someone's actions. Their fMRI data can distinguish between their subjects' state of mind after the fact. There are several fundamental differences between this experimental set-up and real action prediction. One of them is that fMRI doesn't yield a reliable signal until 6 seconds after the decision has been made. Another one is that in this experiment the action was carried out, i.e. it was not a hidden intention. In this experiment, subjects had to hold on to their decision during a variable time; i.e., they had to wait for a signal before taking the action, but they had to perform it. So in reality, the experiment looked at the process of holding on to a certain intention, and that intention was rather artificial. And it still cannot be done without knowing the outcome of the action, i.e., a large number of samples has to be taken with the subject's cooperation before any "prediction" can be made. So I would conclude that, interesting as the outcome may be, the article is highly exaggerated.

Re:Interesting but exaggerated (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17945846)

A few years ago I saw a report on TV about a paralysed person controlling a mousecursor only with his mind. I don't know anymore what kind of experiment it was or who did it, but the fact that it was so accurately that he could even play games like Pacman that way, was really amazing . When the reporters asked him what he actually had to think to make the cursor move, he said that it was nothing special, just "left" "down" "click" and so on.

From this report it looked like it wasn't really more difficult to read a persons mind than doing any other kind of pattern recognition (e.g. voice recognition).
Well, personally I guess it is a lot harder, but how much exactly?

Re:Interesting but exaggerated (1)

tgv (254536) | more than 7 years ago | (#17946064)

I guess you've seen a BCI (Brain-Computer Interface) based on EEG (Electro-Encephalogram). You attach a few electrodes to the skull or put a cap or band with electrodes around the head and that allows you to measure some of the electrical activity in the brain, but only of the outmost layer (the cortex). That signal is very, very noisy.

For a BCI to do what you want, you have to train. It takes many hours to get an accurate decoding even of a few simple actions (up, down, left, right, enter, that's just five actions). The idea is that you learn to use a part of your brain to provide signals that are strong enough to be distinguished from the electrical chaos that makes up the rest of your thinking. It's almost like training a muscle. So in that sense it is artificial brain activity.

Re:Interesting but exaggerated (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17946034)

You just posted exactly what I wanted to write. I also am working on my Master Thesis in this field, and
what I've been reading about this story is absolutely hilarious.
People should understand this is not "mind reading" as much as understanding mental processes
which are going on in that exact moment. It's not viable neither imaginable in the near future to
read people's memories and or thoughts.
It could be possible, however, in a near future to tell whether or not a person is lieing in that
exact moment, like a truth machine you know... not that scaring.

And I would like to underline how this field is about understanding human brain, and mainly about helping
locked-in patients to have a way to communicate with the external world. Should BCI
evolve fast enough, it could be the most revolutionary progress in Human Computer Interaction ever.
That's what all of this is about, no 1984...
Oh and by the way, minority report was NOT about mind reading... it was about predicting crimes, and if a predicted crime is a crime itself or not. (By the way, read the short story by Philip K Dick himself!!)

Bye

Don't be Paranoid... (2)

Thakandar2 (260848) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945752)

Am I the only person thinking that perhaps this could be used for reasons other than "proving innocence" or creating an Orwellian state? Here's some of the good uses I can think of, but this is off the top of my head:

-Sensing what people without means to normally communicate want to do by being provided with yes/no, outside/inside, feed/don't feed me gruel, etc.
-Fine tuning the discovery of what functions use certain brain patterns to better develop an idea of conciousness
-Strap a monkey in and do the same tests to see how similar we are processing wise.

This is just off the top of my head. Please feel free to contribute more.

They need to define "Bad intentions" (4, Interesting)

scsirob (246572) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945782)

If someone (say, the infamous "terrorist") walks around planning to do something bad, I'm sure in his mind it's recorded as doing something good. How is this system supposed to tell what's good and bad?

Re:They need to define "Bad intentions" (2, Insightful)

Kjella (173770) | more than 7 years ago | (#17946040)

It doesn't. We just track their state of mind and have them commit acts of terrorism until we can reliably recognize that individual's brain pattern when intending to. A field test on suicide bombers is planned for early next year pending funding.

D&D-ish style adventure (0, Offtopic)

realcoolguy425 (587426) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945786)

Choose your starting equipment for the slashdot article (x) to select ()tinfoil hat ()book for a simplfied plan to making a profit, missing one step ()soviet russia scroll, that happens to read you ()Windows Vista --(hehe, sucker) ()a loyal follower wearing a red shirt ()a replacement for that loyal follower, but just some kind of strange script ()clue bat ()a +5 vorpal sword. (yes it runs linux) ()a beat up chair with the initials SB on it ()explosives (with made by sony on them) ()paper weight (drm enabled device) ()16000 pages of nothing (SCO legal briefs)

intentions is a wishy washy term (1)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945804)

i know personally i don't know my own intentions some times, so how can a 3rd party claim to understand them?

Dear God (4, Insightful)

Puff of Logic (895805) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945856)

I hope that we never reach a time where the majority of people accept the idea of "proving one's innocence." That innocence is presumed while guilt must be proven is at the very bedrock of any free society and god help us if that ever truly changes.

Nice. (1)

DimGeo (694000) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945860)

I'd like someone to read my own intentions and try to explain them to me, please. Because I have no idea how to go on with my life :). I guess I'll have to improvise, like always...

no problem at al (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17945872)

Tenser', said the Tensor; tension, apprehension, and dissension have begun.

They can't read me.

Droids!! (2)

the_masked_mallard (792207) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945876)

These are not the droids you are looking for ...

Obligatory George Carlin quote (1)

bmo (77928) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945930)

Forget about just doing the sin/crime. Here's George Carlin's take:

"It was a sin to WANT to feel up Ellen, it was a sin to PLAN to feel up Ellen, it was a sin to take her to the place where you were gonna feel her up, it was a sin to TRY to feel up Ellen, and it was a sin to FEEL her up - there were FIVE SINS in one feel, man." - George Carlin

--
BMO

Sounds good, but only for politicians (2, Insightful)

b.burl (1034274) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945944)

If only we could guarantee that our so-called elected servants are not without conscience, that would be revolutionary. It's not something that gets a lot of press time, but there are people who are defective, who don't feel compassion, who view others in the same way we view objects, who have no empathy. Oh to have a leader who feels that murdering children in the name of war is utterly nauseating, and won't bomb civilian sites (& fyi, there is no such thing as a smart bomb); a leader who doesn't view habeas corpus as an annoyance; a leader who will not say anything to anyone to get elected as long as the strategist says its a good idea; in short, a leader whose goal it is is to serve not win. A screening test that will eliminate the power hungry sub-humans, now that would be a godsend.


The road to hell is paved not with good intentions, but with the intentions of the soulless remorseless creatures previous cultures called vampires and we call sociopaths/narcissists. Unfortunately, they're drawn to politics like ants to honey and most people don't see it.

Whats wrong? (3, Funny)

true_hacker (969330) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945960)

Whats wrong with you guys? Where are the tin-foil hat jokes?

Over reacting? (1)

Dersaidin (954402) | more than 7 years ago | (#17946086)

Theres plenty of replies that make it seem that this machine will give you a 10 second video clip of the person imagining their intentions.

I think it would be more along the lines of finding which parts of the brain are active as they would be if the person was (for example) employing deception. Even then, finding the deception 'signature' of activity in the current thought would probably be quite uncertain.

Thats my thoughts on how it'd work. Likely I'm wrong, but still, it wont be give a video clip or anything so clear as that.

Doublethink (1)

DerWulf (782458) | more than 7 years ago | (#17946118)

Submitter doesn't know what doublethink is.
Heres a hint: it's not pointing out different sides of the same coin.

Potentially Dangerous. (1)

coolkarni (866819) | more than 7 years ago | (#17946132)

Can't date no girls anymore.

mod Down (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17946148)

morE gra8diose [goat.cx]

Obligatory Costanza Quote(?) (3, Funny)

Captin Shmit (861923) | more than 7 years ago | (#17946174)

"It's not a lie, if you believe it"

Night Out (2, Funny)

muffen (321442) | more than 7 years ago | (#17946190)

A Brainscanner developed by male scientists, here is what they are really thinking (I used my brainscanner on them):

1) Get Brainscanner and go to pub
2) ???
3) Pleasure

Giggidy-giggidy! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17946238)

Damn this itches. I wonder who gave it to me. Probably that skank who needed a ride to the gas station. Last time I do somebody a favor. Oh God they must have heard me! Oh God I can hear me! Ba, na na na na na na na na na, na na, ba ba ba ba!
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