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Mind reading and ethics

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memenode's picture
User offline. Last seen 34 weeks 3 hours ago. Offline
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I've read recently in newspapers that some scientists have apparently managed to read people's minds, that is their intentions. A fMRI sensor of some sort is put on their forehead which reads brainwaves and transmits them to the computer which then analyzes them and allows them to translate them into actual intentions, or at least roughly.

According to the article it has an 80% of success. The article compares this from what was shown in the movie "Minority Report" where precognition is used to determine who and when is supposed to do a crime and stop them from doing it before they actually do it. They are guilty for the mere intention which was certain to have become reality should they not have stopped them.

That is something which calls for an ethical dilemma in itself. While this new technology, which is apparently evolving, cannot predict the future nor is it yet as reliable, it looks like it will be possible to read people's intentions in the future and determine whether they're likely to do a crime or not.

It also raises a privacy issue. These devices could be maliciously built into hats, for example, and made to transmit readings from our brains to some corporation which could then use information they get in research and development. If they know what people intend (which often crosses with people's wishes) they can design products which fit that. It could, of course, maybe be used to deliver highly targeted advertising as well.

There are definitely some potentially good uses of this technology though. With this level of sophistication in interfacing with human brain it can very well be possible to allow blind people to do certain actions on their computers by thought alone. These transmitters can be useful to everyone else as well. You could, for example, order a computer at home to do a certain task by just thought alone, while you're away from home (though sure, you could also just ssh into it from your openmoko Eye ). Almost every technology has good and potentially bad uses. It depends on who uses it and why.

The tough questions are about which exactly uses can be considered acceptable and which not?

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dylunio's picture
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This could lead to Thought

This could lead to Thought Crime becoming a reality, which is quite a scary thing. For many people their minds are their only means of privacy and escape from the world; if their minds could be read the may no longer have a private space. Thus it is quite ethically dubious to use mind reading tech.

But as you say, disabled people may be able to run things with their minds alone using this technology, so it shouldn't be quashed, just maybe regulated in a way to stop it's use in the manipulation of people and situations where thought crime exists.

As for hats with the readers in the brim, I'm sligtly skeptical, since these scanners are big things. But if the practicalities were overcome it could make the technology very dangerous, and potentially embarassing (you don't want advert's around you to start advertising e.g. Playboy or wedding planners when you see a girl and think she looks nice...Eye.

memenode's picture
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True, it's quite a

True, it's quite a potentially dangerous technology, but that has to be overcome if there are uses that can be very good for people. That is going to be increasingly important as we move on. People have to realize that "with power comes responsibility" and technology always gives humans more power. If we can't handle it responsibly we don't deserve it, but we can't settle for that.

That's why ethicism is growing in 21st century.

dylunio wrote:

As for hats with the readers in the brim, I'm sligtly skeptical, since these scanners are big things.

Yeah I guess I went a bit too far as I imagined them as little devices that could be put in hats. Though it might be shrunk to that at some point..

Quote:

But if the practicalities were overcome it could make the technology very dangerous, and potentially embarassing (you don't want advert's around you to start advertising e.g. Playboy or wedding planners when you see a girl and think she looks nice...Eye

Lol indeed. Laughing out loud

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User offline. Last seen 11 years 12 weeks ago. Offline
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I bet one day this will be

I bet one day this will be capable of reading much more detailed things than just intentions.

How about imagining an object (of which no design previously existed) and seeing it appear out of a 3D printer seconds later?
How about automatically taking notes of all thoughts that you feel are interesting?
How about recording your dreams so you can show them to friends as movies?

Yes, all technology could be used both for good and for evil. You know even shoes can be used to kill (by two methods!). Should we all go barefoot?

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GITS
tbuitenh wrote:

How about automatically taking notes of all thoughts that you feel are interesting?

Sounds like cyberbrains from Ghost in the Shell.

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memenode's picture
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tbuitenh wrote: How about
tbuitenh wrote:

How about imagining an object (of which no design previously existed) and seeing it appear out of a 3D printer seconds later?

Or before it gets out of the 3D printer gets displayed on the screen or even as a hologram. This way you have some feedback before you actually see it made in the printer. If it doesn't look good outside of your mind, you can quickly adjust. When you're afraid you'll lose that creative "thought", you can quickly save the current snapshot in a file. Smiling

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User offline. Last seen 11 years 47 weeks ago. Offline
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Recursive Technological Progress?
tbuitenh wrote:

How about imagining an object (of which no design previously existed) and seeing it appear out of a 3D printer seconds later?

I'd imagine an even better 3D printer!

And then an even better one!

:-D

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User offline. Last seen 11 years 12 weeks ago. Offline
Joined: 2004-08-23
AI
Simon G Best wrote:
tbuitenh wrote:

How about imagining an object (of which no design previously existed) and seeing it appear out of a 3D printer seconds later?

I'd imagine an even better 3D printer!

And then an even better one!

:-D

After a while, even better 3D printers will start appearing even before you imagine them, because they are imagining themselves Laughing out loud .

User offline. Last seen 11 years 47 weeks ago. Offline
Joined: 2007-03-07
Privacy Violations

There's already software that analyses body language for use with surveillance cameras, so as to predict potential crimes in order to help pre-empt them. That's sort of heading in the direction you're imagining for this mind-reading technology, so those Orwellian fears are far from implausible - it's already happening!

And, of course, there are polygraphs - so-called 'lie detectors'. That's another limited form of 'mind-reading' technology (though very limited - but if you ask the right questions...).

My take on that issue is that it's a matter of personal privacy - mental rather than physical, but still a matter of personal privacy.

Rape is an extreme form of invasion of personal privacy, and generally regarded as wrong and unacceptable. Burglary is another form of physical invasion of privacy, and one which is well known to leave victims feeling violated. If I was to find that someone else, without my knowledge or consent, had been reading my private, personal thoughts, I'd feel violated, that my personal privacy had been deeply violated. I would not have other people do that to me, so I'm not going to support doing it to other people.

So, that's basically my position on that kind of use of such technology. I'm simply opposed to it as an unacceptable violation of personal, mental privacy.

Of course, there may well be all sorts of wonderful, good uses of such technology (just as there are good uses for things we could sexually assault other people with). I don't think we should try to ban such technology. But we certainly should recognise the right to mental privacy, and have it protected in law.

At least, that's my current take on the issue :-)

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Privacy is Dead - Get Over It

That's the title of a talk given by Steve Rambam at the 2600.com Hope Conference last November, I watched the dvd's and what an eye-opener.

Steve is a Texan P.I. and went through a raft of the information sources he regularly uses to gather information on people, eg http://www.gorillatrace.com/nakedape.html

In this community we'd be aware of many privacy issues, we follow the drip drip revelations from the Sony/BMG rootkit to MS Genuine Advantage with it's built in E.T. to the AOL dataset to rfid chips.

Pretty much all of our activity is logged, aggregated, sold, cross-referenced, and resold as a matter of course. Blogs, Myspace, facebook, friendsreunited, chatrooms, discussion groups, searches, products browsed, purchases, bar id-swipes, public records of divorce, house purchase etc etc etc. Consider the insight you get knowing all this information about someone.

I find the best guide to anticipating how a new technology might be used is to look at how technologies with a portion of the capabilities are already used. At least that reveals the motivations of some, and public opposition is all that stands against escalation to unacceptable levels.

My father always said, if you've got nothing to hide, you've nothing to worry about. How many would agree with that today?

memenode's picture
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That'd be awesome... until

That'd be awesome... until at some point printers imagine new printers which think they should now use humans instead of have humans using them. Laughing out loud

Whoa there's singularity right there, and gone wrong. Spin the matrix story all over again. Sticking out tongue

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