Who Owns My Thoughts?
|You can actually buy this online. I am considering getting it printed on a hat.
Two preliminary points: first, I want specify what I mean when I say “compelled” to undergo a brain scan. It seems, at least it seemed to me while sitting in the audience, that Americans are pretty afraid of having someone else read their minds without their permission, or, worse, being forced to have their minds read. This extends even to a simplistic form of mind reading such as rudimentary lie detection. I have to say, I understand this fear, and for me, it boils down to this – I would be afraid that the government could, by compelling me to undergo a brain scan, make me give up information that I didn’t even know I was concealing. Lest I spin totally into conspiracy theory territory, I tried to approach the question more systematically by researching how brain scans fit into our current constitutional protections against unlawful search and seizure.
Second, a note about how lie detection is currently used. Both during the lunch we had earlier in the afternoon and the symposium itself, all of the featured speakers pointed out that fMRI lie detection evidence isn’t admissible in court. Laken himself has even been involved in several landmark cases. In actuality, the forensic application of lie detection technology goes far beyond courtrooms. Results from a lie detector, including those done via fMRI, can be used in a variety of situations, including, but not limited to: arbitration, civil commitment, and parole, sentencing or administrative hearings. They can also, in theory, be used by law enforcement officials in the course of an investigation as long as such procedures lead to evidence that can be used in court, and nothing is obtained illegally (more on what that means later). So, fMRI technology can already be used for legal applications, both in the civil and the criminal areas (although I am leaving aside some of the more complex legal arenas, like military courts and investigations done under the PATRIOT act).
To paraphrase Nita Farahany, the Fifth Amendment covers what comes out of your mouth,
as long as what comes out is words and not saliva.
|I know those feels, man.
In a newer article titled “Searching Secrets,” set to be published sometime later this year, she applies this standard to a wider spectrum of information, including “tangible and intangible thoughts, ambitions, and expressions.” In her system, investigators would be guided by the rules of intellectual property law rather than more traditional Fourth Amendment concepts of property (home, possessions, papers.) This system integrates copyright concerns into discussions of what secrets can be investigated and uncovered, by whom, and for what purpose, and would offer more protection. This is largely because it would have a wider concept of the “reasonable expectation of privacy,” the guiding principle when deciding what can and cannot be collected as evidence without a warrant. This integration would also, as far as I understand, allow for a more thorough investigation into how copyright functions when it comes to un-uttered and un-written ideas.
|Precrime. It Works.
In terms of brain imaging, and certainly as far as the technology discussed at the symposium, this is a futuristic vision indeed. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t emerging crime prediction technologies. (Go ahead and Google “precrime” if you don’t believe me.) Tune in next month, where I’ll be blogging about how, where, and why “precrime” technology is being developed.
Want to cite this post?
Cipolla, C. (2012). Who Owns My Thoughts?. The Neuroethics Blog. Retrieved on
, from http://www.theneuroethicsblog.com/2012/06/who-owns-my-thoughts.html
 Basically, and I am really paraphrasing here, the key is that copyright also gives people the right not to publish something, that is, to keep it secret. Farahany uses the famous J.D. Salinger case as an example.