Friday, October 14, 2011

Mind reading and our future

Well, of course, it’s my fault, for I am a simple philosopher sitting in his room in his private ivory tower. But now and then I come down, as my dear readers may have noticed, in order to look for stuff for my blogs, either live by travelling, or virtually by surfing on the Internet or reading printed stuff. And so I discovered a few days ago that the technological developments have already progressed more than what I had thought. In my blog last week I saw mind reading as something far away in the future, but what did I discover? It’s already among us. No, I do not mean the mirror neurons in our head that read for instance, as my readers may remember, the feelings, emotions, intentions and so on of other persons. I mean an artificial device that really can read what is going on in our brains. The gadget I found on the Internet is a kind of head set. You have to connect it with a television, which interprets then your brain waves. Or use your brain waves for controlling computer games or other software programs. The Australian engineer Adam Wilson made such an application known to the world by using it for sending a Twitter message. But people suffering from brain disabilities and paralysis will be able to use it for controlling their wheelchairs. I did not find it yet in the stories and messages on the Internet (but it may be my fault) but what to think of using such a head set as a kind of mobile telephone? Just set a mind reading set on your head and let your partner do the same, and you can communicate just by thinking! You do not need to say a word any longer. Just think. One problem to be solved, of course, is that probably there will be also other thoughts in your head, so the mind reading set must learn to select the right ones. But it will make communication much easier. So you’ll be able to tell to your partner what you cannot put into words.
Communication will be more direct then. But be careful, for maybe your partner hears also what you want to keep secret. One step further will be to read your thoughts, even when you do not have a mind reading set on your head. You enter a building and a mind scanner in the doorpost reads whether you want to make an attempt or whether you are there for decent reason. Even better, place such scanners on every street corner, like it is done now with surveillance cameras. The uses will be infinite (as will be its misuses). From a philosophical point of view all these developments are very interesting and they will certainly make that concepts like freedom and personal identity will be given a new meaning.
See CBS News and the NewScientist and follow the links there.

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