Gallery I

They Read My Mind

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Is Orwell’s 1984 Scenario Upon Us?


By James Donahue


After 9-11 the United States went into a State of Emergency which most Americans do not realize has continued unchecked to this day.


A federal emergency declaration gives the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) the power to deal with whatever it declares to be an emergency situation. This ranges from natural disasters like floods and hurricanes to dealing with the threat of terrorism.


Most people do not understand that it takes an act of the President to end a State of Emergency. While Congress can declare it, only a joint act of Congress and the Senate can stop a State of Emergency, and the President holds the power to veto such a vote. By law a State of Emergency can only last for two years, but the President has the power to extend it. Thus the State of Emergency declared under President George W. Bush still remains in effect under President Barack Obama.


This is not necessarily a bad thing. However, since 9-11, the passage of the Patriot Act and the creation of the Office of Homeland Security, our government has adopted almost draconian measures to oversee the actions of Americans in what appears to be state of paranoia because of the constant threat of another terrorist attack.


Government now has machines that listen through the walls of your home to hear what you say and machines that see through your clothes revealing all at airports.


There are listening devices that scan personal telephone conversations from satellites in space, and Internet chat room chatter is being bugged all the time by government officials watching not only for for terrorists but child pornography junkies.


The controversial Patriot Act permits authorities to tap your telephone conversations, bug your homes and offices, look at your bank records and even review the books you read from the library without a court order.


There is almost no area of your personal and once private life that the government can’t see, if it wants to.


Americans probably believe the last bastion of privacy, their personal thoughts, are still free from government snooping. But this may not be the case. A recent technical article by an undeclared author in a web site called Deep Thought explained how the technology is possible for machines to now read our thoughts, even from satellites in space. This is because our brains constantly emit electronic waves, which explains why some people have been known to achieve mental telepathy. In fact, it may be a natural but lost art for humans to telecommunicate with one another telepathically.


A story in in 2005 told about efforts by two researchers to use MRI scanning to separate thought patterns from various volunteers. The two, Yukiyasu Kamitani, at ATR Computational Neuroscience Laboratories in Kyoto, Japan, and Frank Tong at Princeton University in New Jersey, discovered that certain signals can be used to determine which image of a selected assortment is being observed. At the time, this this is about as far as their experiments went.


The report was published in Nature Neuroscience.


Showing patterns of parallel lines in one of eight orientations to four volunteers, the researchers were able to recognize which image the subjects were looking at. But there was a problem. Individuals were found to use a different part of the brain to respond to the image.


In a separate study, also published in Nature Neuroscience, John-Dylan Haynes and Geraint Rees at University College, London, flashed two patterns in quick succession to six volunteers. They appeared for just 15 milliseconds, a speed too quick to be consciously perceived by the viewer. Yet MRI images of the brain indicated that the images were not only subconsciously perceived by the viewer, they were correctly identified.


The second study probed the part of the visual cortex that detects a visual stimulus, but does not perceive it. “It encodes what we don’t see,” said Haynes.


The London study suggests that it may be possible to use MRI scanning as a consciousness-meter, allowing doctors to assess whether a patient is consciously perceiving the outside environment, even when in an apparent comatose state.


But again, there was a problem. Yang Dan, a neurobiologist at University of California, Berkeley, cautions that there is little agreement as to what consciousness is.


Brain patterns appear to be unique to individuals, and using MRI scanning, or similar devices to read what is going on in the mind of a patient, criminal, or a random individual on the street was considered almost impossible.


There is something about the mindset of the human, however, that we have described as a “god-like” quality. We have always managed to achieve whatever it is that we can imagine. We create our own reality. Thus if our government or our military determines that it must find a way to read the human mind, either to protect us from harm or to protect itself from the masses, the technology to accomplish such an invasion of our privacy will be achieved.


As the author of the Deep Thought article suggested, America has long had a history of “classified technology” where such achievements as the atom bomb, the stealth aircraft and other achievements have been classified for national security purposes for years.


Who then, is to say that someone, somewhere, isn’t capturing the thoughts of the humans of the world in some super computer that is busy sorting out who should be weeded out of the herd for the best interest of the others?


The only comfort we might find in all this is that with near 7 billion humans now populating the planet, there has to be a lot of information out there to be captured and sorted. We question if there is enough software in even the most advanced computers in the world to achieve such a task.


In the end, even if such software and technology existed, would worldwide scans like this be worth the effort? After all, most people today are not thinking past basic survival, having sex with that special someone, getting through the work day or watching their favorite team win an artificial game of warfare over a ball.