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Mind-reading tech and future of privacy April 10, 2010

Posted by Summerspeaker in Technology, Transhumanism.
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A classic of science fiction, peering into the brain has become a real area of inquiry that continues to advance. Intel recently displayed brain-scan software capable of determining which of two words a person is thinking about with 90% accuracy. Though currently clumsy and expensive, what happens after a decade or three? Brain-computer interfaces seem fun, but other implications from this field can fairly be described as nightmarish. When discussing the potential applications on 60 Minutes, Paul Wolpe offered the chilling scenario of dragging his daughters down to the local brain-scanning station to see which one put a dent in his car. Mind-reading technology could easily be a boon to patriarchal authority.

One of the possibilities I fear the most centers on increasing subtlety in the means of control. At present, the bosses still rely on straightforward nastiness alongside more elaborate mechanisms. Weapons of war focus on putting holes in people.  Cops swing clubs and throw punches. Interrogators beat prisoners’ extremities into pulp. We in the opposition commonly focus on the visceral horror of such abuses.  What will become of resistance to oppression if technology allows states to eschew such spectacles of brutality while waxing ever more authoritarian? The combination mind-reading with sophisticated less-lethal weapons enables this future. Police might painlessly capture, detain, and mentally probe you for a minor infraction, then charge you for a serious offense based on the brain scan. Given the lack of unrest in the United States even when cops shoot people, who would complain under this scenario?

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