Friday, December 05, 2008

thoughtcrime?

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:

17 comments:

andrea said...

I think it is shocking what technology can do these days. In my opinion, some of the newest technological advances are positive if they are used for good, like as an antiterrorist device, however, when it is used for unnecessary means, it becomes an abuse of knowledge and power. In biology, we are discussing cloning and whether or not people think it is morally wrong to clone organisms. New advances in the world bring great power, and like they said in spiderman "with great power comes great responsibility". I think that the uses of these advances such as the "remote MRI" are a good idea when they are used for national security purposes, such as antiterrorist uses in airports.

Adam said...

This is another "touchy" civil liberties question that is hard to decide on. This new-age technology is similar to arresting someone with little suspicion and no evidence. We need to make our own conclusions about scenarios like the one presented above. Personally, I am against the use of these mind-reading devices in airports. Unless they are used on everyone who goes through security, I think they are wrong. How can we decide whether or not someone looks dangerous? I just don't understand how our government would decide who's mind is read and who's is not. In the past, I know that people who are arabic have been dubbed suspicious. But this is completely unfair and an example of racial profiling. I would be upset if I saw someone of a different ethnicity being pulled out of the crowd to have tests ran on him. I think that if our government decided to use this technology, that would happen. When it comes to airport mind MRI, I think it should only be used on everyone who goes through security, not just "suspicious individuals."

Frettzilla said...

adam your point seems right to me but actually in the movie they arent just singnaling one person they scan everyones brain. also it would seem more valid to scan everyones brain in an airport as to not stir up racial profiling.i believe that these advances in technologies like the portable mri would prevent terrorist attacks. but i also belive that this is as far as the mri should go for. the government should not be able to scan peoples brains for advertising or to see if they are lying because this is against peoples privacy. what people think in their head should not be infringed on.

Matt L. said...

I do not think that it is a good idea because it is a slippery slope. One second you are reading peoples minds to find out whether they are terrorist next you are arresting people for crimes that they are going to commit. If you think about it we have done pretty well without these technologies. Also, if the CIA and FBI would have worked together 9/11 would have been avoided. So I do not think the technology is that necessary.

Max Rice said...

When these "scientists" actually come close to making this so called device, I will have a viewpoint on this issue. But until then im not going waste any of my time on it.

Kimber said...

It is amazing that our technology is getting so advance that people are now able to determine if you are going to lie, prior to your own act of lying. As Andrea stated, if these new advances in technologies were only used for national security purposes then it would be awesome, but I cannot help but think that the future of that technology would be abused and used for negative actions. It is similar to the development of the atomic bomb. As Andrea wrote, with such great power comes greater responsibility and the question of who is responsible: the scientist, the politicians, the government, the public. Also, just like we discussed in class with Mr. Bolos’ “foot inside the door” example, they may just start with these actions helping the security, but we have no idea what that will lead to. In the future could people be using these technologies in common day to identify what others actual opinions are? It is frightening. If we would no longer have the opportunity to keep our thoughts private, where would our privacy be? Furthermore, the new technology involving sounds only being heard by only certain people is frightening. The reaction from Clive Thompson, contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine, was shocking. It seemed as if he believed that he was going crazy and hearing voices. I do not want to experience the same invasion of my mind.

Jackie said...

I think for use of security, like in an airport, where lies can pose a serious threat, it seems okay. I think we also need to know the extent of the "mind reading" to really make a decision. However, I think that mental transmissions for uses in things like advertisement are a totally inappropriate use of the technology. Our minds are the only things we have that are truly “ours” and only under extreme circumstances should they be taken from us. But of course, there are always extraneous solutions, and we could go much more into this…

Matt B said...

I agree with Jackie, I think that if it is only used by the Government with good reason it should be allowed. If you think about it, interrogations would be much simpler if we knew whether the person was lying or not. We would not have to use such harsh methods to dig out the truth from victims. So in a way, while this invades on one of our civil liberties, it helps another.

andrea said...

Now that i read matt's post i realize what this has to do with the "foot in the door" theory we talked about. Thinking about it in this sense, its hard to believe that this new advanced technology won't be misused.

andrea said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Adam said...

I agree with Andrea, Matt, and Max. Andrea and Matt bring up a great point, once this technology is developed, who says it may be used for more than just airport security. What happens when authorized personel start to abuse this technology? At the same time, I agree with what Max wrote. It seems extrmemely dificult to develop "mind reading" technology. I will be schocked if this technology is working in the next 40 years.

Jackie said...

Eh, but one technological leap leads to another. I was talking with Bolos about how when the movie was made, that technology the lead character uses, the "touch screen" thing, didn't exist, but now, they do! News stations use them all the time, these "magic screens". I can't have been more that a decade, and a technology we thought would have been impossible is now used often!

I also like what Andrea said about the foot in the door. We can never really believe that if this technology came about, it would forever only be used for good. So do we even try to make the techonology if we think it could be used for evil? That, I believe, is a question we are going to run into many times in our lifetimes...

Zack said...

I have always thought Minority Report was a great movie, but only on the basis that it has awesome action and a cool story line. However, now that I look at it with my new knowledge of restricting civil liberties I can see how complex it truly is. Is it just to arrest someone for a crime they haven't yet committed? Sure, murder is a horrible thing and it makes sense that if a thing like "pre-crime" existed that there would be people who would want it, but what if there are breaks in the system? What if a murder is predicted that really wasn't going to happen? All of these questions come up. Pre-crime is playing god and I don't believe that I would be for it if it actually existed.

maddie hilbrant said...

I agree with Zack. I think that the whole pre-crime idea is cool for a movie but if it were real, I would not support it. I think that sometimes things are meant to happen for a reason and a good point is brought up; what if a murder was planned but never was going to happen? All sorts of things could go wrong. With regards to the scientists working on the remote MRI, I think that Andrea's point hits the nail on the head. Technology is so cool these days and something that can read a lie before it happens would be great to have in airports and to protect things that are major like that, however I do not think that something like that should be abused and we see power being abused very often.

Kelly said...

I agree with Maddie’s points. Technology has become a great tool in life and will become more and more prominent in the world. The only problem is, where is line going to be drawn? The technology used in Minority Repot was really cool but pretty questionable as a whole. In my opinion everything happens for a reason, but this technology would never let anything happen. I think that there should be technology made to make the world safer, but not stopping crimes before they happen. Technology is great, but it needs to be monitored to an extent.

Boris P said...

Although this technology does have some good uses such as being used to detect terrorists , overall any progression in this technology would be an invasion of privacy. Our mind is our innermost sanctum , our private space. Being able to breach it would be a huge violation of our rights.

Jack Terrier said...

NO NO No, what they were doing in the movie was fine. It would be stupid not to take advantage of a program in which you could see the future and prevent death. Although, unlike the movie, the crime should be classified under attempted murder or man slaughter. You can't convict someone of murder if they didn't do the crime, even if they wanted to or were about to. And the only flaw that I saw in the movie was how the old man was able to work the system. If they had a task for devoted to looking for that, the whole thing would be pretty prefect.