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Are you sure your thoughts are private?

2024-02-24T05:05:20.703Z

Highlights: The science of mind reading is going to reach the Spanish Parliament. The speaker, Rafael Yuste, is a leading neuroscientist who has already convinced legislators in Chile, Brazil and the United States. The privacy of your thoughts is not a fundamental phenomenon, but a mere consequence of our technological limitation. Until now, the privacy of thought has been guaranteed by the impossibility of reading it. Now we will have to protect it with laws, says the author of a book on the subject.


Our public representatives will experience a sound explanation of the real risks that brain technology poses to our societies right now.


The science of mind reading is going to reach the Spanish Parliament.

No, it is not that Dr. Moreau is going to implant chips in the deputies to know what they are going to vote for, which party they are going to flee to, or which of them is going to make a mistake with their finger while they are thinking about something else.

You see, that wouldn't be so bad, and maybe it will end up arriving in some dystopian future, but we're not there yet.

What our public representatives will experience, if they attend the session, is a sound explanation of the real risks that brain technology poses to our societies right now.

The speaker, Rafael Yuste, is a leading neuroscientist who has already convinced legislators in Chile, Brazil and the United States.

Ladies and gentlemen, we will have to listen carefully to his arguments.

Thinking something is not a crime even in the most bloodthirsty dictatorship we can imagine.

Saying something is not usually a thing in a democracy either, except in extreme cases of hatred or defamation, when it can cost you a fine or a time in the shadows.

But the mere thought is unimpeachable, in the legal sense that there is nothing to impute to it.

“You are innocent when you dream”, sang Tom Waits, you are innocent when you dream.

But are you really?

In traditional couples, the mere fact of desiring another person usually generates bad vibes.

If a job applicant plans to get pregnant, it is best that her employer does not know, because the chances are that she will not hire her even if she has a Nobel Prize.

The employer, by the way, would not want her intention to discriminate against the candidate to be read in her brain.

The reason we are all so sure that our thoughts are private is actually a standard philosophical error: dualism, the myth that the mind is something different from the brain.

The most famous culprit is Descartes, although all the poor guy did was codify an atavistic automatism that we all suffer from.

Unfortunately for the sacred chauvinism of our species, the mind

is

the brain.

When you think, feel, remember, plan or regret something, it is because the neuronal prodigy that you wear in your skull is activated and reconfigured.

There is no soul, there is no formless magma, there is nothing else.

I know this is a disturbing idea, but it is not written in the stars that reality must adapt to our prejudices.

The immediate consequence of the above is that your soul can be read from outside your skull.

If you are thinking of cheating on me, I can tell by simply recording the activity of your cerebral cortex.

The same goes if you're planning to defame me, steal my ideas, take advantage of my feelings, or hit me in the head with a club.

The privacy of your thoughts is not a fundamental phenomenon, but a mere consequence of our technological limitation.

Nothing more than a technical problem.

And that technical problem is dissipating rapidly.

Until now, the privacy of thought has been guaranteed by the impossibility of reading it.

Now we will have to protect it with laws.

That is the point that Yuste will make in the Carrera de San Jerónimo.

Another question is whether we really want our thoughts to be private.

To give a silly example, I would be delighted if a neurologist explained to me what I am thinking, no matter how unspeakable it may be.

Maybe mental privacy is only a concern for criminals and adulterers.

After all, novelists make their living by baring their minds.

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Source: elparis

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