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The BCIs of the near-future could unmask spies... and other things people would rather keep secret


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#1
starspawn0

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You may remember this work from last year:

 

https://www.pbs.org/...n-brain-region/

 

What it showed was the following:  if you take someone who began playing Pokemon from an early age (5 to 8 years old), who continued on, playing some into adulthood, and you show them Pokemon pics, a certain region of their brain will light up; and the location of this region is more-or-less consistent across subjects.  The region doesn't light up for other cartoon or comic characters -- it is specific to Pokemon.  Furthermore, novice players, and people who hadn't played at all, don't show the brain response.

 

The response is probably reliable enough to where you could pick out whether someone was a Pokenmon player with reasonable accuracy.  I wouldn't be surprised if a good Machine Learning algorithm could do it with 95%+ accuracy.

 

Now consider the case of a spy, who goes to work in an intelligence agency of some kind, and sees the exact same buildings, murals, decorations, and so on, every day (or... 5 days a week), for many years.  They might not have begun the exposure to the stimuli while young; but the adult brain is somewhat plastic, so we can expect regions of their brain to become devoted to it.  And... the location is probably going to be roughly consistent across all the spooks working there.  

 

Now suppose one of these spies is in a foreign country, and is captured.  A wearable BCI is placed on their head, and they are shown trigger images of where they worked... and their brain automatically lights up in response.  They can't shut it off.  If they see the stimuli, their brain will respond.

 

More generally, any kind of "secret" one wishes to keep, that involves a stimuli one is exposed to over and over again, might be extractable, even decades later.  And, probably, if one is willing to settle for slightly less accuracy (say, 90% accurate, instead of 95%+), one can even extract secrets about things one is only exposed to for a short time.  

 

Just imagine the implications of that!



#2
caltrek

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I am a Doctor Who fan.  I mean going back to like at lest the 80s.  In one of the older episodes, I remember a conversation between Doctor Who and one of his Galifrean (sp?) compatriots.  They were discussing how to deal with alien invaders who could read minds.  Dr. Who argued that he was best equipped to do that. His friend started to object, whereupon Doctor Who quickly changed the subject. After the fellow Galifrean begin to discuss the new subject, Dr. Who pointed out that he had just successfully distracted the attention of his friend.  The friend then conceded that Dr. Who had made his point. 

 

I am not sure where I am going with this, but that exchange proved to be very memorable to me.  Keeping an opponent off guard is very important.  Understanding the psychology of both you and you opponent even more so.  I suppose understanding the physiology of your own brain is better still.


The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls


#3
Raklian

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You may remember this work from last year:

 

https://www.pbs.org/...n-brain-region/

 

What it showed was the following:  if you take someone who began playing Pokemon from an early age (5 to 8 years old), who continued on, playing some into adulthood, and you show them Pokemon pics, a certain region of their brain will light up; and the location of this region is more-or-less consistent across subjects.  The region doesn't light up for other cartoon or comic characters -- it is specific to Pokemon.  Furthermore, novice players, and people who hadn't played at all, don't show the brain response.

 

The response is probably reliable enough to where you could pick out whether someone was a Pokenmon player with reasonable accuracy.  I wouldn't be surprised if a good Machine Learning algorithm could do it with 95%+ accuracy.

 

Now consider the case of a spy, who goes to work in an intelligence agency of some kind, and sees the exact same buildings, murals, decorations, and so on, every day (or... 5 days a week), for many years.  They might not have begun the exposure to the stimuli while young; but the adult brain is somewhat plastic, so we can expect regions of their brain to become devoted to it.  And... the location is probably going to be roughly consistent across all the spooks working there.  

 

Now suppose one of these spies is in a foreign country, and is captured.  A wearable BCI is placed on their head, and they are shown trigger images of where they worked... and their brain automatically lights up in response.  They can't shut it off.  If they see the stimuli, their brain will respond.

 

More generally, any kind of "secret" one wishes to keep, that involves a stimuli one is exposed to over and over again, might be extractable, even decades later.  And, probably, if one is willing to settle for slightly less accuracy (say, 90% accurate, instead of 95%+), one can even extract secrets about things one is only exposed to for a short time.  

 

Just imagine the implications of that!

 

 

No one can keep secrets from one's own brain. After all, it was the brain itself that formulated the contents of the secret in the first place.


What are you without the sum of your parts?




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