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Mind control

New mind probe technology could be used to interrogate the public

Monday, February 12, 2007 by: M.T. Whitney
Tags: mind control, invasion of privacy, medical ethics


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(NewsTarget) A new technology that scans the brain to read people's minds, giving details of what actions a person is thinking about, makes some critics wonder if neuroscience has gone too far.

The prescient technology raises ethical questions whether it can be used to eavesdrop on people's thoughts, or incriminate them for actions they have simply thought about.

Primarily of interest is the medial prefrontal cortex, an area of the brain that changes in activity while a person is thinking, which if scanned can give an indication of what a person might do.

The groundbreaking technology was developed by leading world neuroscientists who utilized high-resolution brain scans to take image patterns of brain activity. For the trial, they showed a set of numbers to participants and asked them to decide whether to add or subtract them. The scientists were able to predict the participants' decision with 70 percent accuracy.

"What's frightening about this technology is how easily it could be used against the citizens of countries like the U.K. and U.S.," said consumer technologist Mike Adams. "History has proven that all such technologies find their way into the hands of dangerous individuals or governments who use them to actually suppress freedom rather than defend it. A serious ethical debate is needed on such technologies."

One possible positive with the technology is brain-controlled computing, a science that is useful for those with disabilities such as artificial limbs. Another function could be working with machinery that responds telepathically to thoughts, such as computers that assists wheelchair-bound people by predicting their thoughts and putting them into words.

A fictional example of brain scanning technology used to trample on privacy rights is the Steven Spielberg film "The Minority Report," where people are criminalized for thinking about actions before they actually do the crime.

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