Mind-Reading Technology: Aren’t We Over Our Heads Already?

mind reading, technology, AI, humans, Intrusion, Thoughts

Mind-reading technology is coming along nicely. Scientists are now making progress in translating brain activity into text.

  • The intrusion into thoughts and emotions potentially compromises mental privacy and leads to unauthorized disclosure of private information.
  • People can abuse it for manipulation, extracting personal preferences for targeted messaging and coercing individuals against their will.

Mind reading technology has been fascinating to people across cultures, with one of the earliest mentions being the Greek myth of Psyche and Cupid. And over the years, it kept popping up everywhere, be it real-life “accounts” like the Creery Sisters or literary masterpieces like George Orwell’s 1984 and Stephen King’s The Shining. Scientists have sought to figure out how they can make it a reality. Well, it looks like they are getting closer. And frankly, I’m not sure whether that is a good thing or just another Pandora’s box, as we seem to be opening a lot of those lately.

You Are Kidding, Right?

The Semantic Decoder is a groundbreaking collaboration between AI and fMRI that translates brain activity into a continuous text. It utilizes non-invasive fMRI brain recordings to decode a person’s thoughts while listening to or imagining a story. Although the transcription is not perfect, capturing the overall message rather than word-for-word accuracy, the decoder represents a significant advancement in neurology.

What’s so Bad About It?

The actual mind-reading technology? Nothing. The users? Their unpredictable nature. The study is great news for non-verbal patients. But when has anything remained where it was intended to go?

Privacy Concerns and Personal Autonomy

Privacy concerns are paramount in the exploration of mind-reading technology. Intrusion into the realm of thoughts and emotions compromises the concept of mental privacy, potentially leading to the unauthorized disclosure of private information. As a result, the fear of constant surveillance and the risk of others discovering one’s private thoughts can have a chilling effect, causing individuals to self-censor and modify their behavior, ultimately eroding their autonomy and freedom of expression. These privacy considerations must be carefully addressed to ensure that individuals’ private thoughts remain protected and that the potential risks of mind-reading technology are appropriately mitigated.

Abuse and Manipulation

Malicious actors can exploit this ability to access and interpret an individual’s thoughts and mental states for various purposes. In advertising or political contexts, mind-reading data can be used to extract personal preferences and biases. As a result, it would enable targeted and potentially manipulative messaging. Individuals may be coerced into revealing information or making decisions, knowing that their thoughts can be read or influenced. Moreover, unauthorized access or control over someone’s mind could lead to:

  • Psychological harm
  • Invasion of privacy
  • The creation of mind-controlled devices used for nefarious purposes.

Final Thoughts

There is no doubt that mind-reading technology could do a lot of good for our kind. But the more technology advances, the more it seems to rely on human decency and common sense to not implode our lives or our planet. But last I checked, some humans, most of whom “happen” to be in positions of power, lack some necessary qualities that ensure the harmonious continuation of this timeline, like empathy, generosity, etc. You know, the stuff that comes hand in hand with a conscience.

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