So here is a terrifying new scientific advance: using electrodes surgically implanted in the brains of medical patients, a UCLA neuroscientist named Dr. Moran Cerf says he has successfully monitored people's thoughts.
"Dr. Cerf makes his bold claim based on an initial study that he says suggests that the activity of individual brain cells, or neurons, are associated with specific objects or concepts. He found, for example, that when a volunteer was thinking of Marilyn Monroe, a particular neuron lit up. By showing volunteers a series of images, Dr. Cerf and his colleagues were able to identify neurons for a wide range of objects and concepts – which they used to build up a database for each patient. These included Bill and Hilary Clinton, the Eiffel Tower and celebrities. So by observing which brain cell lit up and when, Dr. Cerf says he was effectively able to 'read the subjects' minds'."
"We can sail with our imaginations and think about all the things we could do if we had access to a person's brain and basically visualise their thoughts," says Dr. Cerf, who hopes to first use the technology to build a machine that could read people's dreams.
Yes, just imagine it! And what could possibly go wrong? I don't suspect for a second that the government would get a hold of this technology (as if it hasn't already) and use it to suppress the citizenry. I mean, they've certainly always respected the privacy of our phone conversations.
And it certainly wouldn't be like Until the End of the World, when Max Von Sydow invents the same kind of machine Dr. Cerf is talking about, but then all everybody wants to do once they get hold of it is sit around with strap-on view-finder glasses over their eyes and play their own dreams back to themselves. And everyone gets addicted to it like heroin. (I always thought that was right. That would be exactly what would happen.) It definitely won't be like Strange Days, where people use it to make first person recordings of rapes and murders and then force the people they're raping and murdering to watch it happen while it's happening.
Even the writers of "Gilligan's Island" new the dangers inherent to reading the internal thoughts of others. Some things, we just don't want to know.
Most disturbing of all, perhaps, the ad department at Honda seems to already have obtained Cerf's "dream-catcher" machine, and used it on me to make commercials for their Odyssey minivan.
But mostly, for me.