The end of privacy

Here’s an interesting update on the current state of technology using electrodes implanted in the brain to “read thoughts.”

In one recent experiment, researchers were able to use ECoG to determine the word a person was imagining.

“This is both very exciting and somewhat frightening at the same time,” says Gerwin Schalk, a researcher who studies ECoG at the New York State Department of Health’s Wadsworth Center in Albany. “It really goes pretty close to what people used to call mind reading.”

Of course, reading one word doesn’t sound that impressive. How close are they to really capturing a person’s internal monologue?

So, he says, it should be possible to use ECoG to eavesdrop on that inner voice and decode what we’re thinking.

Schalk says he hasn’t quite done that yet. But he’s close. In one experiment, he says, the ECoG system tried to recognize several dozen unspoken words in the minds of volunteers. It was right about half the time.

This is a little curious, since we don’t really think much in a stream of internal dialogue. You don’t think, “I could really use a peanut butter sandwich,” you just get a general sense of wanting a peanut butter sandwich. Nonetheless, it’s interesting technology. I predict a future where babies are implanted with brain computer interfaces at birth, and every embarrassing or deviant thought they experience is automatically posted to their Facebook page or blog. (Which is pretty much how I run this blog.)

1 Response to “The end of privacy”


  1. John Saleeby

    Why do I read this shit?

    Oh! I’m sorry! I meant to say I saw “Monte Walsh” with Lee Marvin last night and it was awesome! Yeah! That’s what’s on my mind.

    Sure would like to fuck all the teenage girls in that “Suspect At Seventeen” Movie I saw on Lifetime today.

    Oh! I’m sorry!