Indian police scan suspects’ brains

FP passport is reporting that police in India are attempting to read suspects’ minds by a computer analysis of their brainwaves:

Two Indian states have been using electroencephalograms (EEGs) to interrogate criminal suspects since 2006, but this summer was the first time a judge handed down a conviction based on the data.

The suspect sits in silence, eyes shut. An investigator reads aloud details of the crime — as prosecutors see it — and the resulting brain images are processed using software built in Bangalore.

The software tries to detect whether, when the crime’s details are recited, the brain lights up in specific regions — the areas that, according to the technology’s inventors, show measurable changes when experiences are relived, their smells and sounds summoned back to consciousness. The inventors of the technology claim the system can distinguish between people’s memories of events they witnessed and between deeds they committed.

Based on this scan, a woman who claims to be innocent was convicted in June of poisoning her fiancé.

Neuroscientists have widely condemned this application of EEGs, which has not been sufficiently peer-reviewed to have gained wide acceptance. It’s not too far-fetched, though, to see it as the future of criminal investigation. Officials from Singapore and Israel have expressed interest in the Indian program and similar procedures have been developed in the United States.

I think there are two points regarding the technology:

1. At the moment this particular system hasn’t been peer-reviewed or tested to made sure it works as described. It may well just amount to a a high-tech version of another lie-detector that doesn’t work reliably, the polygraph.

2. In the long term, it’s likely that there will be technology that can reliably tell what suspects/witnesses believe.

This entry was posted in biology, computers, crime, human rights, India, society, technology, the Singularity. Bookmark the permalink.

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