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Brain Scanner Can Read People's Intentions 338

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the you-might-be-up-to-something dept.
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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Brain Scanner Can Read People's Intentions

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  • Pfft. (Score:5, Funny)

    by gardyloo (512791) on Friday February 09, 2007 @03:10AM (#17945520)
    Not without cracking my DRM, you bastards!

    • Re:Pfft. (Score:5, Funny)

      by gardyloo (512791) on Friday February 09, 2007 @03:14AM (#17945546)
      I knew you were going to post that! Ha-ha!

      *disappears in a puff of logic*
    • Not without cracking my DRM, you bastards!



      You brain's all analog. DRM doesn't apply.

  • by Reverse Gear (891207) * on Friday February 09, 2007 @03:11AM (#17945538) Homepage
    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: (Score:2, Informative)

      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
      • Re: (Score:2, Offtopic)

        by PopeRatzo (965947) *

        The film is an exelent example of why actors should leave the director's chair to someone else by the way..

        But then Mr. Eastwood would have missed out on the Oscar nomination for Million Dollar Baby and we would have missed out on such great films as Bird, Mystic River, High Plains Drifter, Outlaw Josey Wales, Play Misty for Me, Flags of Our Father, and Sands of Iwo Jima.

        There is a serious argument for saying Eastwood is one of the greatest living American directors with Scorcese and Coppola. Certainly, hi

      • From the submission... 'It's like shining a torch around, looking for writing on a wall,' said the leader of the project, Professor John-Dylan Haynes .

        Now why does that remind me of the old joke about how to make a blonde's eyes light up?

        [You shine a torch in her ears.]
    • by Drantin (569921) *
      Macross Plus? Seems there's more than one movie that uses the idea...
    • by Speed Pour (1051122) on Friday February 09, 2007 @04:29AM (#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: (Score:2, Funny)

      by cheater512 (783349)
      Oh no! My tin foil hat ripped! They now know that I want to take over the world. My plans are ruined!
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by maxwell demon (590494)

      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.

      Now, what would happen if it turned out that the religious leader actually doesn't believe it? :-)
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by radtea (464814)
      Well they still have some way to go before they reach Minority Report levels.

      You're not kidding. From the article, this is what they've actually done:

      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 activit
  • by Curien (267780) on Friday February 09, 2007 @03:13AM (#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.
    • by MoralHazard (447833) on Friday February 09, 2007 @03:39AM (#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: (Score:2, Informative)

        by kfg (145172)
        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
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by CmdrGravy (645153)
        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: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by hey! (33014)

        You can "prove" innocence to the same, imperfect degree that you "prove" guilt: by presenting evidence to that conclusion.

        I disagree. To a first approximation, "proof of innocence" requires the proof of the non-existence of evidence that you are guilty whereas proof of guilt requires to proof of existence of evidence of the same. It's a bit more subtle than that though. Consider the following cases:

        (1) Three reliable witnesses saw you plunge the knife into the victim's heart. Guilt proven.

        (2) Three re

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by suv4x4 (956391)
      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.
    • by Bloke down the pub (861787) on Friday February 09, 2007 @04:01AM (#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...
      • by master_p (608214)
        Can it wash and iron clothes and make breakfast, too?

        (of course wifes are useful for another thing as well, but this is /.)
    • by khb (266593)
      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.
      • by Curien (267780)
        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.
    • 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.

      • by qwijibo (101731)
        I see a more fundamental problem with the idea of proving innocence - if I were put into a position where I was forced to prove my innocence, I would perceive that as someone intending grievous harm to me and respond in kind. This would be a great boon for prosecutors since it would show that everyone is guilty after repeated measurements.
    • You cannot prove innocence. That's why our verdicts are "guilty" and "not guilty".

      Actually, you can, and there is historical precedent for this. When DNA tests became available, many people who were previously found "guilty" by the courts were able to prove their innocence with the use of a DNA test on evidence that was previously used for the conviction.

      (If you want to substitute "prove their not-guiltiness", feel free.)
    • Also, if the design is under industrial secret and patented, who can guarantee there aren't backdoors built in? For example it can be rigged on proclaiming you innocent if you concentrate on hitting bill gates with a yellow baton (quite easy a thought to enjoy, for me that is)

      So this device exposes the intentions of anybody but the makers of the device, their friends, and the secret service.
    • by Jaeph (710098)
      You can "prove" innocence in the same manner that you "prove" guilt. One quick example: if I am suspected of a murder, and I show that I was on vacation 1000 miles away at the time (with appropriate witness testimony, random credit card bills, phone records, etc), that's pretty much "proof".

      Except in a soap opera, of course. :-)

      -Jeff
  • by 3.5 stripes (578410) on Friday February 09, 2007 @03:18AM (#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..

    • by bagsc (254194)
      MRIs might not be mobile, but neither are inmates...
    • by QuantumG (50515) *
      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.
  • Accesories (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Neme$y$ (700253)
    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)?
  • by bwd234 (806660)
    "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...
  • Very Disturbing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Nastard (124180) on Friday February 09, 2007 @03:35AM (#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 (Score:5, Interesting)

      by pubjames (468013) on Friday February 09, 2007 @04:07AM (#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.
      • by Ihlosi (895663)
        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: (Score:3, Informative)

      by badfish99 (826052)
      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 shoul
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by digitig (1056110)
      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?
    • by grimwell (141031)

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

      Maybe if only you think about it but if a group of people are thinking about it, you're looking at conspiracy.

      Picture this if you will....
      brain-scans reveal two or more unrelated people thinking about the same crime(e.g. say cheating on taxes). Same crime, more one than one person thinking about it... round them up on conspiracy charges(conspiring to defraud the gov't). Nevermind they have never met or even know each other.

      Check ou

    • Re:Very Disturbing (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Archtech (159117) on Friday February 09, 2007 @08:25AM (#17946992)
      "There is, as of yet, no laws prohibiting thinking about committing a crime".

      Strictly speaking, this is no doubt true. After all, how could you frame such laws, and how would you determine if anyone were guilty of breaking them?

      On the other hand, conspiracy is a crime and may be a very serious one, punishable by long periods in prison. What is a conspiracy? It may be no more than two people discussing some things that they *might* do some time in the future. No criminal act, you see. But still deemed to be a crime. Why is conspiracy a crime and not intention? I believe the real reason is simply that intentions have not previously been detectable or provable.

      There is a deeper, far more worrying implication. These and other similar experiments have shown that researchers can sometimes know exactly what another person is going to do *before that person himself knows*. (We'll ignore that 70 percent accuracy rate for the time being). I think you will agree that drives a coach and horses through the idea of free will, and hence of criminal responsibility. If you can know, before I make up my mind, that I am going to commit a crime, and you arrest me for that intention - or just to prevent the crime - how can anyone possibly argue that I made a decision to commit the crime? I never got that far!

      I have always thought that the dichotomy between free will and predestination was fallacious, based on a lack of imagination or accurate language. I have an apple; I can either eat it, or leave it. Which will I do? Imagine God, who knows everything past, present, and future. He knows if I am going to eat the apple, just as he also knows when and how I shall die. If you prefer a non-religious alternative, consider the universe as a four-dimensional space in which all future events are just as fixed as past ones. Either way, the future is predetermined.

      Yet, at the same time, we have free will from our own point of view - because we don't have any way of knowing what will happen in future, even the things that we are going to do. Until I have either eaten the apple or put it away, I may not know what I am going to do. Similarly, armed with a knife and faced with someone who has wronged me, I may either stab them or not. Do I "choose"? Well, yes, or the word "choose" means nothing. But there isn't a little man in my head making decisions for me. In short, when we say someone chooses to do something, it is mostly a "black box" description that is useful for talking about other people. Look inside yourself for choice, and it isn't really there. It's like a rainbow - visible only from a distance.

      Experiments like these will eventually force us to confront the fact that punishing people for their "moral choices" is inconsistent with our scientific knowledge. We may well *choose* to go on doing so anyway, of course. Or we could shift our ground a little, and say that punishment is a way of conditioning people not to commit crimes - adjusting the expected outcome so that it is less likely to be an attractive one.
  • Hmmm (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    "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.
    • by smoker2 (750216)

      "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.

      Also, why, if they are NOT GOING TO commit a crime, would they need to prove innocence ? Until a crime HAS BEEN committed the police just carry on eating donuts, same as always. You remain innocent b

  • 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

  • by SteelCat (793238) on Friday February 09, 2007 @03:41AM (#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 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by logicnazi (169418) <logicnaziNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Friday February 09, 2007 @03:41AM (#17945674) Homepage
    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'.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by bwd234 (806660)
      "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?
      • by grimwell (141031)
        "Have you been living in a cave since Sept. 11, 2001?"

        Or maybe the better question is.... is that you Osama?
    • by Alioth (221270)
      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 t
  • Timing issues (Score:5, Informative)

    by venicebeach (702856) on Friday February 09, 2007 @03:42AM (#17945678) Homepage Journal
    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.
    • 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.
  • by tgv (254536) on Friday February 09, 2007 @03:44AM (#17945688) Journal
    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.
  • 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
  • by scsirob (246572) on Friday February 09, 2007 @04:02AM (#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: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Kjella (173770)
      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.
  • Dear God (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Puff of Logic (895805) on Friday February 09, 2007 @04:17AM (#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.
  • by DimGeo (694000)
    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...
  • These are not the droids you are looking for ...
  • 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
  • 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 vie

    • What a superb post in every respect.

      I would add only that in the advent of revolutionary technologies useful to fascism, there is an obvious remedy. Use the tech on the fascists, first. We should put our pols, chattering classes, captains of industry and marketing whizzes under these scanners before they do so to us.

      The only problem with my proposal is one I freely admit. Not enough people will be bothered by what turns up. While I would gladly have the leaders you envision, this is a minority tast

  • Whats wrong with you guys? Where are the tin-foil hat jokes?
    • by Ingolfke (515826) on Friday February 09, 2007 @05:48AM (#17946264) Journal
      Whats wrong with you guys? Where are the tin-foil hat jokes?

      I guess you're not up on the latest research... here's a summary in common language.

      It's the science man!
      By making the joke and acknowledging the hat you weaken its mental reflection capabilities. Tin foil hats actually work (queue the non-believing corporate servants) by combining the radiated electromagnetic energy from your brain with the conductive qualities of the tinfoil. Over time, usually three to six months, the tinfoil's electromagnetic field begins to take on the qualities of the brain waves its been receiving, this build-up of energy results in a perfect mask for your particular brain patterns... true mental reflection. To take a term from pipe smoking... the hat is seasoned. By thinking about the hat and concentrating your mind on it existence you begin to create a specific energy pattern that counteracts the seasoned fields you've already created. The hat will still work, but there will be small holes in the energy field that are weaker and that will allow external monitor devices to measure your brain activity. The results are still fuzzy, but given secret technology the government may have now or a large enough computer (Blue gene based system would be fine) a good psychoanalysis team could read you like a book.

      Best practices
      Although there is some debate in the psycho-obfuscation and privacy communities about the shape of the hat, the real issue is mental blindness to the existence of the hat. Most people can't forget that they have a large pointy tinfoil hat on their head, but they can forget that they've placed a layer of tinfoil with a small (1cm diameter or less is best) criss cross pattern of wires inside of their baseball cap.

      It goes without saying that you should never share a tinfoil hat with someone else. The combination of brain patterns will weaken the overall effectiveness of the hat and will make you susceptible to brain scanning and false thought recognition (caused by latent electromagentic patterns from previous wearer).
  • Submitter doesn't know what doublethink is.
    Heres a hint: it's not pointing out different sides of the same coin.
  • by Captin Shmit (861923) on Friday February 09, 2007 @05:24AM (#17946174) Homepage
    "It's not a lie, if you believe it"
  • Night Out (Score:3, Funny)

    by muffen (321442) on Friday February 09, 2007 @05:28AM (#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
  • 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.

    You have to prove your innocence before actually doing anything right now? Eeek...thought crime, just like in that novel. What was it called again? 2007?
  • by Zhe Mappel (607548) on Friday February 09, 2007 @06:42AM (#17946466)
    "...they'd probably put my head in a guillotine," as Dylan sang.

    Quite apart from the ethical concerns this technology poses, the following tidbit is truly fascinating:

    The researchers are honing the technique to distinguish between passing thoughts and genuine intentions.
    I'd like to see if the technology could be harnessed for monitoring creativity, which is in one sense "passing thoughts." Suppose you could decipher activity that amounts to what we call inspiration. Now, with a feedback loop mechanism, you could see what affective states produce your best ideas.

    I want one of these to play with before the Thought Police get them.

  • While I'm on overall a nice person and I never used physical violence or voluntarily endangered anyone since the age of 15 (and never really hurt anyone ever) but beside the intelectual "conspiracy" ("Hey! their security is so lame I would just have to do this to walk away with a lot of cash"), I have at least 5 murder urges each day (towards my boss, politicians, bad drivers, the stupid IT guy down here, smokers... so cops randomly arresting and questionning me on something I didn't do and wasting a lot of
  • "we are also denying people who aren't going to commit any crime the possibility of proving their innocence.""

    That's strange, I didn't know people had to prove their innocence when they weren't going to commit any crime. In most normal countries the legal practise is, one is presumed innocent, untill proven otherwise. Some recent exeptions that are becomming aparent in USA 'justice' not withstanding, it's not necessary to prove anything about one's thoughts about something, as long as one didn't act on it.
  • The authors of the article use the (speculative) technology as an agent provocateur to promote discussion.
    They subject they've chosen to highlight is criminal justice.
    OK, I'll bite:

    In some jurisdictions, you don't prove your innocence. You establish reasonable doubt of your guilt.
    Should we expect the new standard to be reversed?
    For practical purposes, I think that it already has been reversed.
    A trial may determine how bad you take it, but by the time it gets that far, you've already grabbed your ankles.

    In

  • Proving Innocence? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by rossz (67331) <ogre@nospAm.geekbiker.net> on Friday February 09, 2007 @12:20PM (#17950292) Homepage Journal
    Excuse the fuck out of me, but I don't have to prove my innocence. You have to prove my guilt.
  • by Peter Cooper (660482) * on Friday February 09, 2007 @12:45PM (#17950732) Homepage Journal
    I don't know about anyone else, but there are at least two discrete personalities in my mind. Only one of them is actually expressed as my true personality to the world, but I have a little voice (perhaps what some would call a conscience) that throws up all sorts of crazy ideas for my 'real' self to then choose to implement or not.

    So this little voice has told me to steer my car into oncoming traffic, maim people, and all manner of things, but because my 'real' self is pretty sane, it just ignores these stupid requests and does the 'right' thing in each situation. That doesn't mean the 'little voice' will stop coming up with ideas though. I just see this as part of being an introverted objectivist who doesn't see /thinking/ about anything whatsoever as taboo, just /doing/ certain things is taboo.

    If they can read our inner thoughts in future, I'd suggest we'd ALL be in jail, because I don't think I'm the only one who subconciously thinks about nasty things without ever entertaining the thought of /actually/ doing them.

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