Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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February 11, 2003
By: Kevin Drum

CATCHING CROOKS VIA MINDREADING....TalkLeft has a story today about a guy who has a technique for peering into someone's thoughts to find out if they've committed a crime:

A technique called "brain fingerprinting," which seeks to probe whether a suspect has specific knowledge of a crime, could become a powerful weapon in national security, its inventor believes.

As it turns out, it's unlikely his invention actually works, but what if it did? Would it be a good idea?

Here's a thought experiment: suppose this guy actually had a foolproof, nonintrusive way of determining if a suspect in a crime were telling the truth:

  • What restrictions would need to be placed on its use?

  • Would we need courts and juries (as we know them) any longer?

  • How could it be abused?

  • Is there a downside to a 100% reliable way of catching criminals?

The reason these questions are interesting is that it wouldn't surprise me if such a technique genuinely reliable and easy to use were developed sometime in the next few decades. If it is, should we use it?

Kevin Drum 5:33 PM Permalink | Trackbacks

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