Tuesday, December 26, 2006

No More Lies?

Just think of the possible applications of this! From the Washington Post article "Brain on Fire":
The Siemens Magnetom Trio at the University of Pennsylvania is a 10-foot-tall, 14-ton "functional magnetic resonance imaging" machine -- fMRI, for short. It promises to be the most formidable lie detector ever built. By peering directly into our brains, its keepers aim to set a new gold standard for the recognition of honesty in everyone from politicians to criminals to lovers.

The check's in the mail.

That was wonderful.

I'm from Washington and I'm here to help you.
In large part the fMRI imaging technology is based on the following principle:
What the lie detection research has shown so far is that "the truth is always simpler," says Gur, of the Brain Behavior Center. "To make a lie you have to know what is true, and you have to distort it. That is the extra work that goes into lying." It lights up the parts of the brain that control behavior, watch for mistakes, and create physical reflections of your thoughts...
Thus far, the cost of getting such a scan done is cost-prohibitive. No Lie MRI is charging $900 for a half-hour test. Nevertheless, according to the article,
In the pipeline are several cheaper, faster, easier-to-use brain-examining technologies, all intended as major improvements on the unreliable chicken-scratching polygraph we use now. Some seem to identify mental preparations for telling a lie even before the liar opens his mouth -- verging on mind-reading. Another is meant to work from across the room, even if you do not wish to cooperate....
The article mentions several applications of this new technology. One of them makes for some interesting speculation:
[T]he University of Pennsylvania has licensed the technology developed there -- on which it has applied for a patent -- to the California firm No Lie MRI Inc.... No Lie MRI's Web site has proclaimed that the company hopes to revolutionize truth telling in America, offering "objective, scientific, mental evidence, similar to the role in which DNA biological identification is used," to everyone from the FBI, CIA and NSA to the Department of Homeland Security....

The boundless desire for a way to dig through deception is why political consultant John Zogby, president of Zogby International, expects the new brain scanning devices to be in widespread use in the 2008 presidential election. He can clearly see a demand to discover what voters really think of candidates -- and their commercials.
How about turning those lie detectors onto the candidates themselves? Politics, as we know it today, could undergo a major metamorphosis!

The testing of the new scans ran into a little glitch when No Lie MRI, recently licensed by the University of Pennsylvania to use the equipment, prepared to test its first customer on October 29, perhaps a case of ignorance is bliss:
[A]t the last minute, with NBC and CBS camera crews standing by to record the event, [the customer] decided she didn't want to put to the test her assertion that she had not cheated on her husband while he was in alcohol rehab...
The web site No Lie MRI makes the following assertion:
"The technology used by No Lie MRI represents the first and only direct measure of truth verification and lie detection in human history!"
Is the human race ready for total honesty?

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posted by Always On Watch @ 12/26/2006 12:01:00 AM