For more than a decade I have been warning about the vulnerability of brainspray – the brain signals that can be captured from outside your head. In 2008, this article by Jeffery Goldberg demonstrated that an fMRI machine could easily interpret how a person felt about stimuli provided – which could be a boon to totalitarian governments testing for people’s true feelings about the government or its Dear Leader. Of course in 2008 the fMRI costs two million dollars and you must lie still inside it for a useful reading to emerge.
While fMRI mind reading and lie detection is not yet ready for the courtroom, its interpretations are improving all the time and mobile units are under consideration. And its wearable cousins, like iWatches and computerized head gear are reading changes from within your body, such as electrocardiogram, heart rate, blood pressure, respiration rate, blood oxygen saturation, blood glucose, skin perspiration, capnography, body temperature, motion evaluation, cardiac implantable devices and ambient parameters. Certain head gear is calibrated just for brain waves.
Some of this is gaming equipment and some helps you meditate. Biofeedback headsets measure your brain waves, using EEG. They’re small bands that sit easily on your head and measure activity through sensors. Several companies like MindWave, NeuroSky, Thync, and Versus all make such equipment available to the general public.
Of course, if you really want to frighten yourself about how far this technology has advances, check in on DARPA and the rest of the US Military. DARPA has been testing brainwave filtering binoculars , human brainwave driven targeting for killer robots, and soldier brain-machine interfaces for military vehicles. And these are just the things they are currently willing to dicuss in public.
I wrote six years ago about how big companies like Honda were exploring brainspray capture, and have spoken about how Google, Facebook and other Silicon Valley giants have sunk billions of dollars into creating brain-machine interfaces and reading brainspray for practical purposes.
I will write more on this later, but be aware that hacking of this equipment is always possible, which could give the wrong people access to your brain waves and pick up if you are thinking of your bank account PIN or other sensitive matter. Your thoughts of any sort should be protected from view. Thought-crime has always been on the other side of the line.
Now that it is possible to read your brainspray with greater certainty, we should be considering how to regulate this activity. I don’t mind giving the search engine my information in exchange of efficient immediate searches. But I don’t want to open my head to companies or government.