Saturday, July 4, 2009

Carnac the FMRI

As our industrialized nation and its citizens plummet ever deeper into debt and default, it’s heartening to see behavioral masterminds fast at work discovering new ways to squeeze blood out of a turnip.

It seems no line exists today that a bill collector won’t cross in its quest to wring payment from a distressed customer with a past due account. Evidence of this can be seen in the latest mass manipulation technique which involves the formulation of consumer psych profiles in order to diagnose individual lifestyle situations and preferences. These profiles are then extensively analyzed to determine how the information can be utilized and twisted to either emotionally extract payment or power market.

Should the reality of an unauthorized personal psychological profile not prove invasive enough, then perhaps it’s time we let it all hang out in a world where our private inner thoughts are secretly scanned, catalogued and interpreted for future use and without our permission. Well never fear, for Neuroscience has been busy in the background refining the art of mind reading with Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging, or FMRI, research.

In the rear view mirror we saw an atom split to create a distinct fork in the road of providence. The high road of providence seemed illuminated and benevolent as it offered the prospect of an advanced energy source and the opportunity to improve quality of life for the masses on planet Earth. The low road of providence, however, proved to be dark and sinister as its highway led promptly to the atomic bomb and the ability to render mass destruction in a fly-by. The bulk of the research money looks to have taken the low road.

This new wave neuro-technology has created another fork in the road of providence – a fork that cannot clearly offer an unobstructed view beyond the approaching horizon’s blind spots. And like the potential of a split atom, the road taken will undoubtedly depend on the motivation and intention of those providing the essential research funding. Or as some would say, just follow the money....

To ponder the intricacies of merely one person’s consciousness and the unique experiences that influence and form it, is mind boggling at best. The data now being compiled will ultimately require interpretation by some to-be-named professional qualified under some to-be-determined criteria, yet we wonder if it’s possible to really anticipate the perceptions and true intentions deep within a human psyche.

It was funny when Johnny Carson’s “Carnac the Magnificent” knew the answers before the questions had even been asked partly because it had no true basis in our reality of the time. Funny how the humor begins to fade as we witness the present day reality of a rapidly compiled comprehensive thought identification data base, and the prospect of undisclosed powers believing they know the answers before the questions have even been asked.

In true Sci-Fi fashion and resembling that of contemporary attempts to block covert interceptions of private wireless phone conversations, we suspect few will be surprised to hear whispers of an underground movement actively employing countermeasures designed to block or jam involuntary random mind-reading scans on the ground.

How our thoughts are interpreted and how that information will be used to manipulate us in obscure ways is sufficiently disconcerting, but what we really want to know is who's going to own our minds and the thoughts it produces?

Explore FMRI research further, click on “Mind Reading” by Lesley Stahl for 60 Minutes

For a little stroll down Memory Lane, see our ‘In The Rear View Mirror’ March 14, 2009 posting "Barbie, BFF".

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