02/02/2012

Scientists Can Read Your Mind

Scientists could create mind-reading machines after "hearing" people's thoughts for the first time.

Either this is an amazing breakthrough for science, or those scientists have gone mad. If you're hearing other people's thoughts and they're telling you to "kill, kill, kill", it's time to get help.

Experts decoded electrical signals the brain fires off as it understands and creates words. The next step could be to develop thought-recognition software to synthesise speech for those without a voice, like some stroke patients.

Or even better, it could be used to display subtitles for people with a really strong accent. This could boost trade to places like Newcastle no end. Sadly this technology has come along too late to save Cheryl Cole's career but still, it gives hope.

Neuroscientists put electrodes on the speech processing centre of the brains of 15 people. They played them conversation and saw certain words and phrases created patterns in the electrical signals. Experts believe these could be translated into speech.

I hope this technology doesn't become too easy to make. If they start making an iPhone app that can turn thoughts into words, I'll spend most of my time out of the house getting slapped.

Being able to keep my thoughts to myself is the only thing letting me be a member of civil society. At the moment, if a guy in a pin-striped suits gets on a train and talks loudly into his phone he probably thinks I'm ignoring him. But if can check and app and read what's being going through my head, he'd have me arrested and searched for any whole pineapples.

And if a woman hits my ankle with a pushchair and takes off some skin, I turn round, see it's a mum and just give a little smile. I don't want her to then get a message alert telling her what I really thought about her and her ugly kid.

I think the costs of this technology would outweigh the benefits. Sure, it could be better that iPhone's Siri, where all you'd have to do is think of someone and you'd call them. But it could end relationships. If we were in bed together and suddenly my phone called your sister... say no more.

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