Big Brother Brain Scanners To Detect Pre-Crime
Watching, Listening, Shouting, Firing X-Rays and scanning your brain for thought crime

Steve Watson
Friday, February 9, 2007

You think this headline is alarmist? Fine, don't read anymore of this article, click here for the same story from today's front page of the London Guardian which debates whether a 'Minority Report' era, where judgments are handed down before the law is broken on the strength of an incriminating brain scan, is ethical or not.

The technology is no longer science fiction. A team of neuroscientists has developed technology that allows them to look deep inside a person's brain and read their intentions before they act.

During tests, researchers were able to successfully predict the intentions of multiple subjects with 70% accuracy by scanning their brains using a technique called functional magnetic imaging resonance.

The study revealed signatures of activity in a small part of the brain called the medial prefrontal cortex that changed when a person took a choice to do something before carrying out the action.

The researchers are already devising ways of deducing what patterns are associated with different thoughts.

According to the Guardian report, Professor Colin Blakemore, a neuroscientist and director of the Medical Research Council, said: "We shouldn't go overboard about the power of these techniques at the moment, but what you can be absolutely sure of is that these will continue to roll out and we will have more and more ability to probe people's intentions, minds, background thoughts, hopes and emotions.

So what happens when this becomes the next generation of CCTV? And more to the point, what happens if it stays at only 70% accuracy? Or worse still, what if certain emotions, such as depression or anger, lead a person to be categorized as a risk?

And what will be the punishment for pre-crime? With moves to "chemically castrate" sex offenders by eliminating their sexual desires, seriously being considered now, how far fetched is it to imagine a future thought criminal's brain being "corrected" by eliminating the relevant desires or emotions picked up by a brain scan?

The use of this technology for crime prevention and social control is worse than anything Orwell or even Huxley predicted, and is directly out of Phillip K Dick's Minority Report. See below:


Is this the kind of society we want to live in? Clearly not. Why is there even a debate about that?

"We see the danger that this might become compulsory one day, but we have to be aware that if we prohibit it, we are also denying people who aren't going to commit any crime the possibility of proving their innocence." Professor Haynes at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Germany told the Guardian.

This is total Orwellian doublethink on the grandest of scales. The Professor is essentially saying this should not be ruled out as a crime fighting tool because people should be given the chance to prove they are not criminals.

People already have the chance to prove they are not criminals by not committing any crimes! Whatever happened to innocent until proven guilty?

But once again those detached from any kind of moral reality will say "If you've got nothing to hide then what is the problem with having your brain scanned for pre-crime? If it keeps us all safe from terrorists I'm all for it".

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The British government has previously debated introducing pre-crime laws in the name of fighting terrorism. The idea was that suspects would be put on trial using MI5 or MI6 intelligence of an expected terror attack. This would be enough to convict if found to be true "on the balance of probabilities", rather than "beyond reasonable doubt".

So get it straight, you are helping the terrorists by resisting having your brain scanned. Plus, if you have anti-big brother government feelings you may be with the terrorists.

Last month we brought you a report on leaked government policy review documents that debated implanting anyone considered mentally unstable with a microchip. Will this new brain scanning technology be used in this field also, perhaps to check for suicidal thoughts?

Already, under the new mental health act, you can be sectioned for mild depression. Take the recent case of Anna McHugh, who visited her GP after a failed intensive cycle of IVF treatment. She admitted that she was a little depressed and needed some help.

Four hours later she found herself admitted to St Pancras Hospital. Then, having admitted to the attending doctor that she had contemplated suicide, she was sectioned under Section 5.2 of the Mental Health Act and detained in a lock-down ward. When her husband tried to rescue her, she was held in a headlock while a doctor discussed her case with him.

It is not beyond reason to expect this technology to be implemented without debate. Can anyone remember a real meaningful debate occurring concerning surveillance cameras before they went up everywhere in London?

Last month we also reported on documents leaked from the Home Office in London revealing that the government is looking into using X-ray technology cameras by concealing them in lamp posts to "trap terror suspects".

The cameras, currently used in security check points at airports, can see through clothes and produce a naked image of anyone within their range.

Within that report I asked "How many more big brother functions can be gotten out of a camera?" Now, just over a week later we have an answer - brain scanners, is it a step too far to imagine them in the lamp posts with the shouting CCTV and the X-ray machines?

This shows what our governments think of us now. Everyone is a suspect.

Imagine the scenario, lamp post is triggered by technology to spot you walking strangely, begins recording your conversation, scans your face to match your details in the national database, X-rays you to check for weapons, shouts "stand still citizen" and scans your brain to check whether you intend to commit a crime, sees you're a bit depressed, sections you under mental health act, cops pick you up, hand you in to doctors who lock you up and microchip you.

Let's have a moral debate about that scenario. No, lets not.




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