15 February 2007

It’s like I’ve been sayin’ for years...

I've been interested in the ethics associated with brain scans for years now, and I've been saying for years that we're on the verge of a revolution that's going to make the use of DNA in courts look like peanuts. My talk last year, "Brain scans and the magic lasso" was about just this point (available on the right hand side of the screen).

The latest findings show that we're getting very close to reading minds. With high accuracy.

A lot of people are worried about this. I prefer to see an upside. I would love it if it worked in part because there would no longer be need to hold "suspected terrorists" without regular legal process. Debates about “washboarding” would end. The television series 24 would have to find new ways of creating dramatic tension. (Don't get me wrong, I enjoy 24, but dislike what it reveals about American thinking about torture.)

I'm considering starting a pool for the date of the first court case that accepts fMRI brain scans as legitimate evidence. Any takers?

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