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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The curing of mental illness rung a bell with me when reading that book as well.  

I hate being lied to and deceived, and so I would love to be able to tell when someone is lying.  That's one of the positives of the technology, but I can think of so many negatives that it's scary.

My guess is 100 years or more before our minds can be read.  There are other technologies that are more worrisome to me because they're much closer.  Video and audio surveillance for one (or is it 2?).

Could you outline some of the negatives?   I think it would be interesting to unpack them and, even more interesting, to hear people's thoughts as we do.

depends on ... if you use your name? or.. 
@ times yeah. the old-school is the new newschool haaaa

you talking a mob mentality taking on cyber mob? or what are we getting at here. the validity of INTERPOL? 
very valid nowdays. sadistic pedos should be sent to island jail surrounded by sharks.. 
and headhunters

With this sort of technology refined we would be able to see pedophile thoughts and desires as they develop and pre-empt them.  Would this not be a far better solution for the problem going forward? I'm not taking away anything from punishment of existing offenders at all; that seems to be a different discussion altogether.  I think this technology could give us a complete solution to the entire issue.

I had a couple stories related to this topic published in Fantasy & Science Fiction magazine about 10 years ago. I have them up on my web site now.


This one is about the French equivalent of the NSA peeking into the mind of a Russian leader:

This one is about communicating "telepathically" via embedded cellphone chips that interface with the peripheral nervous system

The first story is still a little bit in the future but the 2nd story is close to being doable today.

I am about halfway through the first story; you are a very good writer, by the way.  No spoilers here!



Thanks for the compliment!

If this technology to read minds ever becomes perfected, and I have every reason to believe it will one day based on my research, then what becomes of the harmless, little white lie, such as when your overweight female friend asks how she looks in her new tight fitting dress ? Such a technology could lead to the loss of friends who you genuinely care for, and would not want to hurt by telling them the actual truth instead of the little white lie. The way technology has a tendency to progress exponentially once it gets underway makes me think that such a thing cannot be too awfully far off. In my own personal opinion I don't think it will take as long as even 100 years to perfect. I think it possible it could even be perfected within the next 10 to 20 years. But that's just my own opinion. I could be wrong, I have been before.

Once mature this technology will make our thoughts and memories completely transparent.

Upon seeing this discussion I first recalled one result of going to the Catholic schools my dad sent his kids to. The nuns laid so much guilt on me for my sexual thoughts that I sometimes feared I had a miniature movie screen on my forehead that everyone who looked at me could see. Yeah, Catholicism destroys healthy minds.

The devices that were once called lie detectors proved to be no more than nervousness detectors. I understand that this is the reason that courts ruled against their use.

This was the case in a demonstration at a club meeting. The examiner connected the electrodes and handed me several dissimilar coins. He asked me to choose one and place the others where he could not see them. I did and he asked me several questions to which my replies would tell him which coin I'd kept. I was laughing and tried hard to conceal my laughter. His machine left smooth lines on the paper.

He tried a second time and I, still laughing, gave his machine no reaction. He started asking his questions the third time and I stopped laughing. I gave his machine the reactions he needed and he identified the coin I'd kept.

I of course crowed for years that I had beaten a lie detector.

I've read reports that an fMRI machine can pick up changes in blood flow to parts of the brain that will allow accurate detection of truth-telling and lie-telling.

A machine that can translate the electro-chemical actions in the brain to the contents of thought will provide sci-fi writers with material to entertain their readers for a few more decades.

More decades will pass before any such machine can pick up brain action wirelessly.


I don't think it will be decades; I think we will see it before the end of this decade.  The amount of money being poured into this research is increasing exponentially and these questions are truly one of that last frontiers of the unexplored that science has.  There is too much attention being paid to this field for it to take that long, in my opinion anyway.  It will be interesting to watch!




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