The Jig Is Up: Thought-Scanning Is Almost Here


This is mind-blowing and deeply disturbing: Scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, using functional magnetic imaging, have “reconstructed the internal ‘movie’ that plays in a person’s head.” So, the images on the left there are of what volunteers were watching on a screen, the images on the right are simultaneous electronic pulses in their brains. Pretty close to a motion-picture scanning of thought. This presents trouble for people who, no matter what they might be seeing outside their head, are always only seeing the pentagram from the cover of Rush’s 2112 album or a giant pile of pistachio nuts inside their head. Similarly troubling, scientists are also making progress on the first physiological gauge of pain. Which will eventually make it more difficult to get out of class to go to the nurse by saying your foot hurts.