Sunday, January 6, 2008

Are you thinking what I'm thinking?

I've been researching some technology, as best I can, without scientific training. It isn't easy; when I see a phrase describing a device like the "spl sim/50-mW peak power 4.3-THz quantum cascade laser," I have to look at the abbreviations and slowly tease the meaning out. I know I'm on thin ice.

The key words in this case are "thz laser," which refers to a device that uses terahertz-frequency light. It seems that this near-infrared frequency is quite useful for peering into brain metabolism. Apparently (according to a Japanese study) it causes brain cells to add adenosine triphosphate, after prolonged exposure. It's used for detecting tumors, too, but my interest here is in what our corporate-and-government scientists want to do with it. Here's a hint:

"Enormous efforts are made to achieve advances in image quality and acquisition time of today's standard medical imaging modalities as X-ray fluoroscopy, computed tomography, magnetic resonance and ultrasound. However, new principal diagnostic insights cannot be expected from the linear extension of the physical principles of these methods. In this paper a review is given on imaging modalities in the 1012 Hz - 1014 Hz domain that include new physical principles as terahertz and diffuse optical imaging or well known principles - that had been rejected some years ago and are recently raised to interest by detector advances - as thermography."

Or in other words, we'd gone as far as we could with MRIs and CAT scans, but now we've got terahertz.

Thermography, computer aided tomography and terahertz lasers--add 'em all together, develop an analytical software based on observations, and you've got real-time mind reading technology.

Raw Story ( ran an article in '06 stating that the ACLU had lodged a complaint about mind reading technology being sold to the US government ( But it turns out that information is sooooo '06. THAT old article is merely about magnetic image resonance:

"Two private companies have announced that they will begin to offer "lie detection" services using Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI), as early as this summer. fMRI can produce live, real-time images of people's brains as they answer questions, view images, listen to sounds, and respond to other stimuli.
These companies are marketing their services to federal government agencies, including the Department of Defense, Department of Justice, the National Security Agency and the CIA, and to state and local police departments."

Pff. Bosh. We scoff at that rusty old stuff. Heck, with that old machine you would have to physically restrain your victim--er, I mean suspected terrorist--while torturing, excuse me I mean interrogating. Well, to be fair, I suppose a non-lethal dose of scopalomine, while terrifying, would produce the necessary more-or-less temporary paralysis. But this is the shiny new year, and with the portability of terahertz lasers, our saviors in the secret police agencies will be able to read our minds' metabolic traces and signatures--at a distance.

Well, what's the big deal?--you may ask. After all, you've never had a stray thought. Have you?

I didn't generate this information (I'm sorry to say) from my buh-RILLiant analysis of scientific progress. No, it would have slipped right past my high-school-educated nose without an article in "Intrusive Brain Reading Surveillance Technology: Hacking the Mind," by Carole Smith, Global Research, December 13, 2007. (Rather than paste in another clumsy url, I'll just let you use the search bar at the site.) Smith says that the US army has already deployed a nasty mess-with-your-head device called the Long Range Audio Device (LRAD), which uses diffractive microwave beams to project a voice (or voices or nasty suggestions) directly into your head, making you think that you're suffering from audio hallucinations, or possibly instructions from God. Now it will be possible to coordinate such flimflammery with direct observations of your mental process.

Smith says the ball is already rolling, quoting the Guardian:

"A team of world-leading neuroscientists has developed a powerful technique that allows them to look deep inside a person’s brain and read their intentions before they act.

The research breaks controversial new ground in scientists’ ability to probe people’s minds and eavesdrop on their thoughts, and raises serious ethical issues over how brain-reading technology may be used in the future.

‘Using the scanner, we could look around the brain for this information and read out something that from the outside there's no way you could possibly tell is in there. It's like shining a torch around, looking for writing on a wall,’ said John-Dylan Haynes at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Germany, who led the study with colleagues at University College London and Oxford University."

You don't suppose that our good ol' Uncle Sam might use such technology to, say, snoop on dissenters or drive people you?

Because that would be an awfully disloyal thought. What kind of terrorist sympathizer or potential homegrown terrorist thinks a thought like that? Better put it out of your mind.


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