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Hold that thought

Can you keep a secret? Are you a good liar? Recent research in brain mapping suggests that all your carefully polished acting skills will be for naught. Your brain itself will betray you.

According to researchers at the rather startlingly named Brain Fingerprinting Laboratories, a device now exists that is 100% accurate in separating the innocent from the guilty. Through association with specific details of previous criminal acts or terrorist sites, this same device can even identify criminals and terrorists before another act is committed.

The science of brain mapping is explained more fully in the Brain Fingerprinting Laboratories (BFL) CounterTerrorism104 document. While it may have its roots in the MRI brain imaging done to identify neurological diseases, the mapping done at the BFL has taken a very different twist. Quickly put, the BFL mapping device works by identifying when your brain remembers.

It is a simple principle. Your brain knows everything you have said and done. It is constantly and automatically processing fresh input and relating it to stored images. When your brain recognizes something, it sparks a memory. With the brain-mapping device, we can now identify that spark. In both lab studies and real world tests, the device is an astonishing 100% accurate. You can fool a lie detector and you can fool a voice stress analyzer, but you can’t fool your own brain. Show a terrorist a picture of a training camp or a criminal a picture of a crime scene and his brain recognizes it. Gotcha! In essence, we know you know because we know your brain knows.

Implications for both security and liberty are enormous. With a simple headset and a few pictures, we can weed the terrorists out from our midst. No one will object to that, except perhaps the terrorists. The BFL says, “The truth will set you free.” The trouble is, one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter, and truth and freedom in a democracy are very different from truth and freedom in a totalitarian regime.

At the very least, it spells the end of all field espionage and intelligence gathering activities. Would you volunteer to be a spy if the enemy could catch you by showing you a picture of your own headquarters? Would you be a Jew or Jewish sympathizer in Nazi Germany if the Gestapo could catch you by showing you a picture of the inside of a synagogue?

In the old days, you could always keep your thoughts to yourself. Now if we can figure out the images that spark a memory, we can test to see if it sparks your memory. What the presence or absence of that memory means depends on the one administering the test. Are you harboring forbidden memories? Can you prove you have a “legitimate need” for that knowledge stored in your head? These are questions that will become increasingly important if BFL’s brain mapping device gets widespread adoption.

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