New Technology Enables Passive Mind Reading

New Technology Enables Passive Mind ReadingThe Department of Homeland Security has been working on a program called the Future Attribute Screening Technology (FAST), which explores passive methods for precision behavioral screening. That may be a mouthful, but the idea is really pretty basic.

With this program, DHS is exploring whether or not current technology is capable of detecting hostile intent among people without the need for an outside stimulus. Your face, body language, and heat signature would be all an airport screener or law enforcement officer would need to determine that you are up to no good, and should be questioned and/or detained.

If the US government can actually read your mind, or at the very least discover a disliking for whatever security process you’re undergoing, would that be a violation of your fourth amendment right? After all, it isn’t illegal to think something, especially since most of us have at one point or another thought (passively) about getting away with some form of crime.

MALINTENT Passive Deception Detection Screening

A system has been designed that DHS is currently testing and considering for field use. This system, called MALINTENT, reads your body temperature and heart rate, breathing patterns, and body language to determine whether or not you’re up to no good. This system can be deployed in airports and within mobile screening units for large events outside of stadiums.

Theoretically, all you need to do is walk through a specific area and the system does the rest. It’s easy on the subject as no external questions or triggers are required for it to essentially read the subject’s intentions. That is, unless you set off the system’s trigger.

Thought Visualization Technology

Further to that, who’s to say what the limit of this technology is in the future? In recent years, scientists have been able to recreate visual images as they appear in your mind. In doing so, they can essentially record movies as they play in your head. Sure, we may be 20 years away from being able to do this on a remote level and these images were captured using fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) technology. But still, I can think of no bigger violation of privacy than having someone watch the videos playing in your head. Then again, you could always just picture the interrogator naked.

In realistic terms, this visualization can only currently happen through an fMRI. It would be conceivable to imagine technology eventually evolving to a more portable and passive form.

fMRI Lie Detectors

Functional magnetic resonance imaging has lie detection applications as well. Scientists at Columbia’s fMRI Research Center have been studying the use of this technology as a more accurate lie detector. Traditional lie detection tech is often considered unreliable, despite having a surprisingly good accuracy rating. Truth be told (pun intended), the technology largely relies on changes in the body outside of the brain. Where fMRI exceeds is through being able to detect the decision made by the subject to lie in the first place. Basically, it detects your decisions before you act on them.

Granted, this technology (as stated before) is still in a stage where it would be impractical to ask large groups of people to take part in screening on their way into a stadium, school, or airport terminal. This isn’t a passive technology, though it is one that could find its way into interrogation rooms.

Polygraphs are rarely done during interrogation because the technology relies on the stress of the person being questioned to make the readings possible. If a machine were to be introduced that could guarantee absolute accuracy by reading the mind in real-time, it would probably see approval much faster.

Bear in mind though, that there are certain risks involved with fMRI technology. You are essentially sitting inside the sphere of large spinning magnets. Pacemakers and other assistive technologies may be an issue. Further to that, claustrophobia could create a very uncomfortable situation for the person being interrogated.

Why This Scares Me
Imagine walking through the airport and having a machine interpret whether your breaking into a sweat is caused by pre-flight jitters or terroristic intentions. Are you breathing heavy because you’re out of shape, or because you intend to sneak something malicious on board?

Having a computer pretty much read your thoughts could be a a frightening thing. Imagine being detained or strongly questioned for a pre-crime. Minority Report was not intended to be a perfect world scenario, and it would appear on the surface that the very people we are trusting to keep us safe and allow us to continue to enjoy the freedoms of American life are actually creating the very scenarios that makes some science fiction frightening.

Perhaps we’re not exactly at the point of Minority Report just yet, but with technology advancing at a continuously accelerated rate, it’s only a matter of time before you’re taking off more than your shoes at the airport. You could be handing over your very thoughts.

7 comments On New Technology Enables Passive Mind Reading

  • Just a short time before google uses this to serve relevant adwords to stick in front of us. Wouldn’t surprise me if they were already working on it. Instead of searching before i’m finished typing like with google instant it will search before i’m done thinking about it! I’m not sure if that would be cool or creepy yet.

    Instead of seeing the “did you mean ____?” when you misspell something you’ll see “but you were thinking about ____?” lol

  • first things first, i don’t care if you want this to happen or not there are two outcomes, A we know this is happening B similar to the tv show person of interest we go by day after day being scanned and not knowing at all. Frankly I like A a lot more. This particular method is not reading your mind it is pretty much reading body language and facial expression which by the way is what they do at airports today at security checkpoints. They are just using formulas to let cameras and computers do they same. It doesn’t know what you had for breakfast, and it doesn’t know that you think the girl outside is real nice looking. 

    Also privacy we are already living with less, if one day they do have the technology to read your mind and find out what your breakfast was you can either go through that, or choose not to. Not to be sinister but if that prevents another 9/11 attack I am getting in line and shacking their hand afterwords. 

    •  I have no trouble with the use of the technology by law enforcement to handle their own internal behaviors (following, questioning when its an issue, making decisions about whether to conduct a reasonable arrest) but the fact of the matter is that when you reach pre-crime you have gone too far. The only reason I’m really concerned about any of this is the Patriot Act and accompanying Obama era act granting government authority to indefinitely detain.

  •  Actually the pre-crime scenario cannot happen under current laws for two reasons:

    1) The US constitution makes very stringent requirements for due process, and in fact those same requirements were used to shoot down vagrancy laws in the 1950’s, which would actually be a pretty similar case to “pre-crime” when you think about it.

    2) Detaining or questioning on the street a “hostile” for no reason other then body language, ESPECIALLY when they are already quite peeved, would amount to Assault. This actually is what the Zimmerman-Martin case is about. Police officers have the right to batter and use deadly force in situations where ordinary citizens do not, but they do not have the right to provoke a fight.

    This technology could be used, however, at security checkpoint situations, such as airports, stadiums or the gate to any private property, and for situations where you already have cause to investigate. No arrest would be conducted off of it, and any “detention” would be of the same manner as can happen at an airport if something goes wrong.

  • this technology already exists. the underground millitary has already discovered and advanced thought reading technology over the past 40 years. its highly advanced and should be outlawed because people underground are misuseing it. everyone above ground claims people who are victims are just schitzophrenics. ufos were to cover up the technology it is #1 in secrecy to this day.

  • If they can reconstruct an entire image, they can certainly pick up words. Most people dont think in picture and this requires more thinking power

  • do you have any more information on mind reading? I am very interested in this subject.

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