The Thought Machine: It May Soon Be Reading Your Mind
Anyone who likes science fiction movies probably remembers Marty McFly’s attempts to get “back to the future.” Marty ends up in a time machine built from a DeLorean automobile and accidentally lands in 1955.
When he finally tracks down a younger version of his scientist friend, Dr. Emmett Brown, who built the machine in the future, he finds Brown wearing a huge, weird-looking helmet that’s hooked up to a contraption Brown hopes will read minds.
Brown slaps a plunger on young Marty’s forehead and has at it. “You want me to buy a subscription to the Saturday Evening Post!” he declares.
After a few more of Brown’s enthusiastic but incorrect stabs at what Marty is thinking, the angst-ridden teenager yanks the plunger from his face and blurts out, “Doc! I’m from the future. I came here in a time machine you invented. And I need your help to get back to the year 1985.”
A lot has happened since Steven Spielberg made the film Back to the Future in 1985. And though the world may not have a time machine, it is rapidly developing a mind-reading device that would make Emmett Brown proud.
It’s called the fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging). The type of neuroscientific data it collects has already been admitted as evidence in more than 100 criminal trials and cited in at least one U.S. Supreme Court decision.1
The legal profession claims there is great benefit in using the fMRI. According to an article in the Texas Bar Journal, it could potentially screen out biased jurors and provide “objective proof to replace otherwise subjective data and self-reporting.”2 In other words, what the data claims you are thinking would count for more than your actual words.
It isn’t difficult to carry this scenario a step further: In the hands of a corrupt government, such as that of the future Antichrist, neuro-scientific data could become a weapon to ferret out people who are disloyal to the regime and loyal to God.
The fMRI measures blood flow in the brain. A clear benefit of the technology is that it can detect abnormalities and help diagnose disease. But there are other ways to use it. One writer said, “It might also enable doctors to get inside our mental processes to determine what we’re thinking and feeling. fMRI might even be able to detect whether we’re telling the truth.”3
In March, Fox News ran an article titled “We know what you’re thinking: Scientists find a way to read minds.”4 It explains how these brain scanners enable scientists to “reconstruct the faces that people are thinking of.”5
“It is mind reading,” said Alan S. Cowan, a graduate student at the University of California Berkeley who speculated that in 10 to 20 years, “a witness to a crime might want to come in and reconstruct a suspect’s face.”6
Fox reported that the brain readings “got the skin color right,…and 24 out of 30 reconstructions correctly detected the presence or absence of a smile” but “were worse at determining gender and hair color.”7
The fMRI also identifies emotions based on brain activity. Carnegie Mellon University research explains, “Until now, research on emotions has been long stymied by the lack of reliable methods to evaluate them, mostly because people are often reluctant to honestly report their feelings.”8
“This research introduces a new method with potential to identify emotions without relying on people’s ability to self-report,” said Karim Kassam, assistant professor of social and decision sciences. . . . “It could be used to assess an individual’s emotional response to almost any kind of stimulus, for example, a flag, a brand name or a political candidate.”9
So in the future, if you don’t like your government leaders or their flag, a brain scan might betray you.
So far, to have an fMRI, you must lie flat, face side up, and be wheeled into the MRI device that those who suffer with back problems know so well. It is a big, stationary, expensive piece of equipment—nothing at all like the contraption Dr. Brown uses on Marty McFly.
But time changes things. Technology moves on. In the 1930s through 1950s, many polio sufferers were wheeled into big iron lungs that made it possible for them to breathe. Only their heads lay outside the devices. Iron lungs lined hospital wards like matchsticks in boxes.
Today they have virtually disappeared, giving way to more convenient ventilators and the procedures of tracheal intubation and tracheotomy.
Perhaps in the future, the fMRI will be no more inconvenient than Emmett Brown’s plunger and weird-looking hat, turning science fiction into science fact and making it even easier for wicked men to co-opt good technology for their wicked purposes.
At the moment, you can take comfort in the fact that your thoughts still belong to you alone. However, no one knows for how long. It probably comes as no surprise to students of Bible prophecy that something designed to benefit humanity could one day, like so many other things, become a tool of evil in the hands of the wrong people.
- Alison K. Bennett and Jason Bloom, “Neurolaw: Brain Waves in the Courtroom,” Texas Bar Journal 75, no. 4 (April 2012), 281 <tinyurl.com/texasrr>.
- Ibid., 281.
- Stephanie Watson, “How fMRI Works,” How Stuff Works <tinyurl.com/hstwfmri>.
- Maxim Lott, “We know what you’re thinking: Scientists find a way to read minds,” Fox News, March 28, 2014 <tinyurl.com/optt386>.
- Carnegie Mellon University, “Scientists identify emotions based on brain activity,” ScienceDaily.com, June 19, 2013 <tinyurl.com/CMfff>.