Steve G.

Might not want to throw out that tinfoil hat just yet …

In Civil Liberties on October 13, 2008 at 12:43 pm

MSNBC reports:

The U.S. Army is developing a technology known as synthetic telepathy that would allow someone to create email or voice mail and send it by thought alone. The concept is based on reading electrical activity in the brain using an electroencephalograph, or EEG.

Of course, this has been staple science fiction stuff for a long time, and it would be silly to expect it to never move into actual R&D. I have to admit that I’ve long looked forward to a brain-implantable, mentally-controllable computer myself (and desperately hoping that Micro$haft won’t be the OS leader — “Blue Visual Field of Death,” anyone?).

photo by Liam P. MillayTo get the down side, add “remotely” ahead of “reading” in the quote above. Think Van Eck phreaking, organic style. And once the channel is open, who knows but what it might not run two ways?

When (if?) this pans out, the very least we can expect is a new machine in the airport security line — TSA will naturally be interested in who’s thinking “don’t look in my shoes don’t look in my shoes oh Jebus did I leave the detonator on the bedside table back at the hotel?”

Depending on the limits of equipment — reception, sensitivity, etc. — the possibilities for political and industrial espionage are of obvious concern as well. Will we soon see presidents and CEOs wearing metal-mesh hairnets everywhere they go? Will presidential candidates run ads featuring their opponents’ innermost thoughts?

And then of course there’s what we don’t know: How far along is this, really? If they’re showing us this much that they’re developing, what aren’t they showing us that they already have?

Photo by Liam P. Millay
Cross-posted from KN@PPSTER

  1. DARPA does some goofy research, no doubt, but this one isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

    The problem is they need to be able to translate brain waves into unique thoughts, and the technology doesn’t exist to do that yet. Nor will it, since neurophysics is so infant in understanding it makes string theory seem developed.

    Besides, if it did, we’d see an immediate surge in spam email claiming that we can now “read minds” or “influence another’s actions by mere thoughts” and they would be in line for sex products or money-making scams.

    And in the cases of some people, such a device would immediately break once attached–meaning that it would go TILT and break, since no two brains ever think alike. That’s not a slam on anybody–it’s just the truth.

    In the meantime, all we have is psychology.

  2. Thanks for the heads up Tom, but isn’t there a game out already that you put a helmet on to control your character on the screen?

    I’m not much for TV or Wii’s, but I’d swear I saw an ad for one this shopping season….


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