Sunday, December 16, 2007


In New York City a billboard emits highly focused sound that resonates within the skulls of passersby. It’s a novel way of advertising, a potentially terrifying intrusion and, according to technology writer Clive Thompson, the leading edge of a new civil rights battleground – the right to privacy in your own mind.

Have you seen Minority Report? Do you remember the scene in the mall when Tom Cruise's character is bombarded with advertising messages inside his own head?

If intrusive ads don't seem that worrisome to you, consider this: there are scientists currently working on a device that shines an infrared beam on your forehead, a sort of remote MRI, that can "read" your mind to determine if you are in "mental anguish". What this means, for example, is that before we tell a lie, a simple brain scan can reveal it. Imagine the antiterrorist uses for this at airports.

What do you think about any/all of these issues? For more information, listen to this excerpt from NPR's On the Media, which is the source of today's post:


Hannah D. said...

I do not think that it is very fair to have messaging like this being invented. It is not comforting to know that anyone around you could know what you are thinking at any time. Also, isn't it a violation of your rights in some way? I mean, scientist are working hard to make a beam that will do all the interrogating for them. Lie detectores will become a thing of the past and advertising will go to the next level.
On another note, wouldn't the whole advertising-inside-the head thing be a distraction to a passerby? What if someone was driving past this billboard and they become distracted? Would that change the way they are building these new infrared beams?

Moira C. said...

I agree with Hannah because thoughts are supposed to be private, and I don't think the technolagy should put messages inside someone's own mind or should people be able to scan someone's mind without their consent. This is an ethical issue because it is going into people's mental privacy. With this new technolagy, our thoughts, being one thing that EVERYONE has a right to protect and keep private, could be exposed.

Sara D said...

I think this was a really interesting this ot listen to. There were many valid points brought up on each side. I personally am against it. I think that it is a violation of privacy. It is weird to think that not only will your thoughts not be kept to yourself, but in fact someone else can put their own thoughts and even publicities into your head as well.
The only positive thing I can see out of this was the example they talked about when someone was lost and they can "laser" thoughts into their heads. The other example was seeing when people lie, even before they do it.
However, I think the negative points of this or more important than the positive. The media report even said it can distract kids in school and increase stress level because of all of these thoughts in addition to your own running through your mind.
My question to this would be if this was in fact put into action permanently, would it be able ot be used all of the time or should there be some sort of restriction on it?

Lars said...

i think it is wrong to have subliminal messaging. Technology is scary sometimes. I feel like we are too capable of doing things for our own good. This relates to the memory erasing medication we discussed earlier in the year. What memories are ok to erase? When is it ok to read minds? Dont memories make us who we are? Arent our thoughts suppost to be private? Will technology developing, new issues need to be adressed.

Elizabeth L said...

Although I agree with everyone- yes it restricts our rights, yes technology is developing way to quickly, yes it just is weird! But could this solve and resolve many issues today and save lives so terrorist attacks don't happen, so we can figure out the truth of a case... wouldn't it take less time to do answer the many questions we have? I mean I don't necessarily agree with this idea but just putting it out there because what if the government used this what if they are? How would we know? Although it scares me, I think we should see if the cons win over the pros of the issue.

Harlesbarkly said...

I have to agree with the majority of the class that these ads are being way to intrusive. If we ever achieve the technology that would allow what happened in Minority Report to occur it should be illegal immediately. The fact that anyone can look up your information with only knowing your name disturbs me greatly. What is line for corporations to reach a target market. If they violate our personal security and privacy then they violate what America, no humanity stands for.

Chris said...

The privacy of one's own mind is sacred, and should not be disturbed. This lie detecting could lead to the reading of thoughts which is not acceptable. An invdividual should be allowed to think whatever they wish, without fearing that others may know what they are thinking about. Opinions would be trampled, because people would not even be allowed to form them, with opposing views coming against them, and brainwashing them before they could even convince themselves of their opinion. This technology is dangerous because it could lead to even more intrusive technology.

Jace said...

Oh yo dudes,

Well.....I think that they are two specific sides to this argument. Side A being those who believe that the intrusion of our thoughts and personal information is inhumane and illegal. Others on side B may believe that this type of technology helps improve life and makes shopping easier for us, and ultimately helping the multinational companies. BOOOOOO! What side do you think I'm on? Im going to team up with harles Barkley on this one like Jordan and Pippen. I belive that the "scanning" of our history and personal information can be considered an attack on our civil rights. What happened to our privacy? Let me put it this way; Michael Jordan (Me, ofcourse) dribbles down the court and pulls up for a fifteen-footer. Instead of MJ hitting the perfect shot(that he wanted to shoot), three defenders come out of nowhere and stuff him in his face. Why? Because they knew where, what, when, and how he would take that shot. Much like the cheating defenders, many stores or online shopping websites know when, how and what you will buy. Instead of letting you buy only one product, or nothing at all, many places "stuff" you in the face and practically for you to buy a certain product, or eventually more things than what you originally planned.