Cigarette smoking lady cops to read minds

The International Herald Tribune has an unintentionally funny opinion piece where a rather poorly informed journalist publicly wets his pants about ‘thought-decoding brain-scan technology’ which, apparently, the police could be carrying in the future so they’ll know if you’re thinking rude things about them.

When the police stopped me for running a red light recently, I was thinking “Don’t you cops have anything better to do?” But the words that came out of my mouth were a lot more guarded, something like, “Sorry, I thought it was green.” Sometimes it’s good to play the dumb foreigner.

The policewoman, a tough lady smoking a cigarette, glared at me. Was she reading my mind? No, I guess not, because she only gave me a warning. But beware, in a few years she might actually carry a device that can do that.

Research is rapidly advancing to allow thought-decoding through brain-scan technology, and it scares me to death. I don’t want anyone else in my head, and certainly not the police.

It’s a masterpiece of superficial reading of the scientific evidence and interpreting it in the most unrealistic and panicky way possible.

Link to IHT piece ‘Watch what you think’.

5 thoughts on “Cigarette smoking lady cops to read minds”

  1. A desperate attempt by newspapers to stop the losses in the immediate short-term? Perhaps if they say incredibly off-the-wall things, they will sell more papers right now…
    What’s that, you say? That will ruin their credibility in the long-run and actually inhibit future sales?
    Doesn’t matter, they already know they’re on a sinking ship, so sell the papers while you can!!!

  2. We are now seeing a much progress in inferences of phenomenology from brain data (Haynes et al. 2007, “Reading hidden intentions in the human brain” Curr. Biol. 17 (4)
    And more recently the possibility of use fMRI data in the court as evidence to spot lies.
    Scientists (Logothetis 2008) know that neuroimaging technology its only a rude way to look at the brain. Its signal is mixed indicating more than glucose input to synaptic activity.
    But what striking me is that in some areas the use of neuroimaging is accepted as a proof test while not in others.
    For example, Dr. Adrian Owen studies with people suffering from disorders of conciousness is a clear cautionary note: not hurry yourself in making decisions about the end of life because there are residual signals of possible consciousness.
    Why this discrepancy?
    This could only bring more confussion to the general public.
    Regarding the evolution of media. I foresight as well the death of printable formats or at least a very limited niche. Internet is displacing them.

  3. Maybe they could use ’em in the courtroom, especially suitable for capital crimes. deus ex machina, anyone?

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