Monday, March 6, 2017

Mind-Reading Technology

This article detailing an advancement in reading people's minds is interesting.
'We want to develop an implantable device that decodes the signals that occur in the brain when we think about a word, then turn these signals into a sound file that can be reproduced by a speech device.'

Such a novel device would communicate people's intended thoughts via an electronic speaker or writing device, but the team still has a lot more research to conduct.

They have been able to reproduce a word a person has just heard on a machine, by monitoring temporal lobe activity in a neurosurgical setting. 

Using electrodes placed on the surface of the language areas of the brain of awake patients, they monitored the pattern of electrical responses of brain cells during perceived speech.

The scientists then created a computer model that could match spoken sounds to these signals.

'We recorded electrical signals directly from the human language areas when a person heard words,' Knight explained.

'We then decoded these electrical signals and were able to turn them into sound files that reflected what the person heard, with remarkable accuracy.'

The research is being conducted for the use of individuals who may be unable to speak due to a neurological disease or are in a paralyzed condition. The article focuses on the positive aspect of quite literally reading people's minds. Another upside to this kind of technology is the potential to make irrelevant torture techniques, as a military entity could theoretically just strap some electrodes on a prisoner and tell them "don't think of a pink elephant", at which point the prisoner's brain would naturally begin thinking about the elephant, the shade of pinkness, how large it is, what it would sound like, its last known exact location, etc. 

But then again, the military is the government. And government doesn't exactly have a nice bright and shiny track record of treating it's own citizens very well. The State would have a cookie-cutter way of pulling information from any resistance fighters' minds. They don't even have to be resisting physically. They could simply be committing Thought Crimes, and The State could find out about it. 

This technology also introduces a grey area into law, where if you aren't a Free Speech fetishist, then you have to deal with the idea of whether or not an individual thinking something and a machine repeating what they think as speech is a violation against the individual or not.

It's always good to imagine the dark side of all these cool and futuristic science fiction becoming reality. One day, you may have to deal with it.

Thank you for your time,


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