It’s a simple question, and one we ask each other all the time… but it comes with a whole lot of psychological baggage, not least that of the barrier between the thoughts you choose to communicate and those you choose to keep confined to your own cerebrum. So here’s the trigger for your next Phildickian moment of existential paranoia – brain scanning procedures developed by scientists in the specialist neurological field of “neural decoding”show promise of eventually being able to analyse what you’re thinking about:
Last week at the Society for Neuroscience meeting in Chicago, Jack Gallant, a leading “neural decoder” at the University of California, Berkeley, presented one of the field’s most impressive results yet. He and colleague Shinji Nishimoto showed that they could create a crude reproduction of a movie clip that someone was watching just by viewing their brain activity. Others at the same meeting claimed that such neural decoding could be used to read memories and future plans – and even to diagnose eating disorders.
Go read the whole article; neural decoding has the smell of a technology that’s about to get much bigger very quickly, especially when the military types hear about it and start throwing money in its general direction. And take note of the fact that although the success rates for algorithms guessing the correct connections between thoughts and subjects are pretty low at this point, they’re still above raw chance… and way above what most “professional psychics” can muster. [image by mararie]