Machines Are Getting Better at Reading Minds - The End of Privacy

Machines Are Getting Better at Reading Minds

It appears that we are about 5-10 years away from seeing this technology mature to the point where it will become as ubiquitous as the cell phone.  Once mature this technology will make our thoughts and memories completely transparent.  It will completely eliminate privacy as we understand the notion today and redefine everything from court trials to job interviews.  Imagine how different the O.J. Simpson trial or the recent Trayvon Martin trial would have been if we would have had the ability to make the thoughts and memories of Mr. Simpson or Mr. Zimmerman completely transparent.  

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1984 is here! No, wait. It was 29 years ago.

Once machines get that good, I imagine the lawyers will have a field day talking about whether it's a true or false image being recalled or generated.

Who knows what will come out of this technology ? I don't know because I don't know anything about the technology, or neurology.

Nonetheless, I don't think this technology will ever make it into the courts. Take the inexact science of lie detection which has been developing for over a century and sometimes employs technology with questioning techniques and the study of physiological reactions. Such is not used in courts of law because of inaccuracy although it has been used in law enforcement.

I don't think the judiciary will accept this technology at any time before the downfall of our species. It's the preserve of lawyers and the like to use questioning techniques and the examination of words in reply to determine evidential weight and they are unlikely to give the job to machines.

Anyway, those are my thoughts on your discussion.

Police using out-dated method of lie detection based on the study of physiological reactions..

What I find interesting is that most initial reactions to the idea of essentially eliminating the ability to lie is met with resistance or looked at as a negative thing.  Why should this idea elicit fear? I base my predictions primarily on the assumption that this area of science and its technology will grow at an exponential rate as any other area of science does. That is my general rule of thumb when trying to guess how far science will have progressed out into the future.

We do indeed.  There are different levels that this sort of technology will have I think.  First it will be the "undefeatable lie detector" which will be followed by the ability to actually see your thoughts, your memories and motivations. There is really no limit to it. Society will be forced to change in some very fundamental ways. Whether or not people will allow those sorts of insights into who they are will provoke some strong reactions.  Telling the truth would cease to be a moral virtue as well I would think.

As Dr. House so eloquently puts it, "everybody lies". We've no idea what a society would look like if lying as a social tactic was eliminated completely. It is possible that your entire internal state could become completely transparent to this technology. Knowing that it would be impossible to deceive would have immediate effects in how people behave I would think.

I haven't thought about it enough yet to have a good opinion on the consequences, but I hate being lied to so much, that I would be willing to put-up with quite a few negative consequences to have lying eliminated.

I agree and I also think we might want to consider being proactive regarding this technology; it might be in our best interests to do some soul searching now.  A person who resists this technology might find some negative reactions from those around them.


Actually, behavior would not matter if such technology ever becomes perfected and widespread, not even the very best behavior, because it still would not alter our thoughts, and humans really don't have much control over what thoughts come into their mind. Sometimes thoughts and images simply come to us unbidden. It's happened to us all at one time or another, and will continue to do so. Being angry at our boss might one day be enough to get us a prison sentence.

And who exactly will be the thought police in this dystopian future? :)  You raise an interesting point.  Let me propose a thought experiment:  if I had a machine that would project your thoughts on a screen so that a room full of people could see your every thought as they occurred would you sit in the device and allow that to happen?  How about if your family members were in the room as well? 

Does anyone see anything positive coming out of these developments?

The author of The Truth Machine did: in that story, political candidates who refused to be interviewed under the undefeatable lie detector found themselves unelectable. Some aspects of that SF world were misses, IMO: supposedly almost all mental illness could be cured by talk therapy done with the truth machine.

Great book by James Halperin!




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