Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Science Moves a Step Closer to Mind Reading

Scientists in London have found that it may be possible to read someone’s mind by simply examining their brain activity. In an experiment involving virtual games, the scientists found that they were able to find out in what part of the game the player was by using a scanner to measure their blood flow. The researchers were able to measure the activity of some neurons in the hippocampus, which controls navigation and memory. Eleanor Maguire of the Welcome Trust Center for Neuroimaging at University College London simply puts it, “In other words, we could ‘read’ their minds.” Although the idea that someone could read personal thoughts is a long way away, there is a possibility that in the future, machines will be made to read memories. Maguire points out that ultimately, this could help understand disorders like Alzheimer’s. In the neurons studied, memories of the past and visualizations of the future are encoded. Ultimately, this could lead to using this new technology to help solve forensic cases.
I feel that using this technology would be a major invasion of privacy no matter who is being tested. These days, it seems that the government is monitoring nearly everything we do and the fact that it is possible that they may eventually have the technology to read our minds will raise huge ethical issues. If this technology really develops into the possibilities stated in this article, people are almost certainly going to have a problem with it, as this idea is the most intrusive form of invasion of our privacy thought possible. On the other hand, it is almost impossible to ignore the fact that this idea of reading memories could revolutionize criminal justice. This technology goes way beyond lie detectors. To have the ability to read the memories of a potential suspect of crime could become a quick, definitive way of proving innocence or guilt. But despite the positive uses of mind reading, I feel that if this technology is put to use, the idea of reading memories will spend more time being argued than actually used.


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