Today I’m being frightened all the way from Japan. Apparently researchers from Japan’s ATR Computational Neuroscience Laboratories can now reconstruct the images from inside your mind and display them on a monitor using new brain analysis technology.
Wha? There is an explanation of the technology behind it here, but I can sum it up in one word: magic. And that magic scares me a wee bit.
The idea is that using this system, scientists can not only be able to know what you are thinking (already when test subjects were shown the word “neuron” the system was able to reconstruct and display what they were seeing using only their brain stuff), but in the future, they believe that they will be able to read a person’s thoughts, feelings, emotional states and watch their dreams.
This scares me.
Now, I can see a practical application for this – I’m fairly certain that this could potentially be more accurate than a polygraph (meaning the lie detecting machine, not the post-modern play by Robert Lepage) and therefore useful in a court of law. It could help people with mental issues (none of you better be snickering at this point and/or raising an eyebrow at me – I don’t need therapy, I have a blog) work through repressed memories or something. That could be wonderful. But dreams?
I think it may be a blessing that we don’t, for the most part, remember our dreams. I understand that there are people out there that do remember them… or think they do. I’ve been thinking about that recently, as I have been trying to remember my dreams of late and have only been partially successful in doing so. I’m theorising that we don’t remember all our dreams because we aren’t meant to remember all of what we dream. I believe that dreaming serves a few functions, one of which is simply a brain dump. It is how your mind lets go of things that your mind won’t let go (does that make sense?). So what good would it do you to have a computer capture those images and then sit and watch them played back like you would a good movie?
Just based on the parts of my dreams that I do remember, I think it would probably be for the best if we never see the “uncut” version. But I could be wrong. I know that I’ve woken up thinking that I had dreamt the entire plot of a novel or movie (although if I could see it replayed it would probably be just a bunch of gunk) or the answer to life, the universe and everything.
Further, the idea of accurate mind reading scares me. The ability to cover up what we’re actually thinking is what separates us from the animals. If they can figure out how to read a mind based on neurons or waves or something, eventually they’ll have a wireless, portable scanner that can do that. And once that happens: anarchy. Trust me, no one really wants to know what everyone else is thinking. By the way, the source of the information is at Chunichi. Have fun with that.