Via my friend Mike who sent me a link to Kurzwell AI, this story in the Guardian about research at the Max Plank Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences. A new brain scan enables the reading of thoughts and intentions; can predict what a person will say or do next. Some goody-two-shoes expressed concern (see below)–but fear not! Such retrograde badthink bioluddites will be squashed like bugs as the glorious Singularity/Technopoly arises!
Because brains differ so much, the scientists need a good idea of what a person’s brain activity looks like when they are thinking something to be able to spot it in a scan, but researchers are already devising ways of deducing what patterns are associated with different thoughts.
Barbara Sahakian, a professor of neuro-psychology at Cambridge University, said the rapid advances in neuroscience had forced scientists in the field to set up their own neuroethics society late last year to consider the ramifications of their research.
“Do we want to become a ‘Minority Report’ society where we’re preventing crimes that might not happen?,” she asked. “For some of these techniques, it’s just a matter of time. It is just another new technology that society has to come to terms with and use for the good, but we should discuss and debate it now because what we don’t want is for it to leak into use in court willy nilly without people having thought about the consequences.
”A lot of neuroscientists in the field are very cautious and say we can’t talk about reading individuals’ minds, and right now that is very true, but we’re moving ahead so rapidly, 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.“
Professor Colin Blakemore, a neuroscientist and director of the Medical Research Council, said: ”We shouldn’t go overboard about the power of these techniques at the moment, but what you can be absolutely sure of is that these will continue to roll out and we will have more and more ability to probe people’s intentions, minds, background thoughts, hopes and emotions.
Monty Meekman, a spokesman for the Overmind entity known by its acronym ORSON (Obedient Remote Servo-Organic Network), was reportedly pleased. A presss release from his office contained the single word, “Excellent!”