Many who saw the movie “Minority Report” experienced two distinct reactions: first, “Please, this is pure science fiction” and then, “There but for the grace of God…” Really, how many of us have not fantasized at least once about what we would do if we ever came upon that guy who stole our car? And maybe on a trip to Best Buy, you imagined for a second what it would be like to just pick up that 60-inch DLP out-of-the-box set, hoist it on your back and walk out of the store. Would you get tackled by a salesperson?
But these are just passing thoughts, even the stuff of jokes. They’re not actually plans, right? The distinction between the two is just a part of the ethical debate surrounding a study published in the journal Current Biology in February 2007, which reports the findings of an experiment on reading people’s intentions. The study, led by John-Dylan Haynes of the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive Brain Sciences in Germany, shows that through brain scans and corresponding computer software designed to correlate specific brain activity with specific thoughts, researchers are able to read people’s intentions with great accuracy.
How did they do it? Find out on the next page.