If you thought that the uses of technology couldn’t get any creepier, you would be wrong. With a “donut shaped” MRI machine, German scientists are scanning people’s brains during the process of decision making. The subjects are given a choice between two options: to add or subtract, or to push this button or that. The MRI shows the scientists what is going on in the brain as the people go through the process of making a decision. Scientists are hoping to be able to predict the outcome of an individual’s decision with greater accuracy.
These experiments are phase one. Let’s be real. Whatever is made will be abused. Imagine the implications. Accurately predicting a person’s decisions before they are made or before the outcomes have been announced could shape world events.
But scientists are making enough progress to make ethicists nervous, since the research has already progressed from identifying the regions of the brain where certain thoughts occur to identifying the very content of those thoughts.
“These technologies, for the first time, give us a real possibility of going straight to the source to see what somebody is thinking or feeling, without them having any ability to stop us,” said Dr. Hank Greely, director of Stanford University’s Center for Law and the Biosciences.
“The concept of keeping your thoughts private could be profoundly altered in the future,” he said.
Security is the excuse for most major poor ethical decisions these days. Sad as I am to say it, George W. Bush has participated in paving the way for the future of legal privacy invasion. I cannot fathom what would be his or any other president’s ulterior motive for the advancement of privacy invading technologies, but that doesn’t mean the motives don’t exist or even abound.
It’s interesting how we’ve allowed ethics committees to exist, yet we rarely pay them more than lip service. As a species, humans do not stop to consider the consequences of industrial and technological development. We appear to be driven to pursue the furthest reaches of possibility regardless of the consequences.
When do we ever stop? When will enough be enough?