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Tuesday, Oct 15, 2019

Mental games

Advances in brain scanning technologies scare me. Commercial versions of portable brain scanners will spell doom for people with fertile imaginations, writes Dilip Raote.

india Updated: Apr 27, 2007 03:10 IST
Dilip Raote
Dilip Raote

Advances in brain scanning technologies scare me. I fear one of these days I will be mistaken for a terrorist and arrested. As a journalist I specialised in war, espionage and the future of warfare. The net result: specialisation provoked mental games. Nearly 20 years ago, I wrote a piece for a magazine on how to disable the security systems in the US in 10 days. It was rejected. I dread the day when such mini-scanners will be available widely.

Security measures of any kind look like challenges to me. When I am inside an airport, I think about ways to beat them. I take mental notes of all entrances and exits, guarded and unguarded areas, the electric wiring, the strength and height of boundary walls, the attention security guards pay to luggage scans and their levels of observation skills, and so on.

If there was a machine to scan my brain, alarm bells would start ringing loudly. These mental games are of course played at a very primitive level, but advanced scanning technologies would detect intentions even before the actual deed is done. And, that's scary.

These scanners could have myriad usages. If they were installed in mobiles, they would have multiple communications. For example, they can exchange intentions, instead of words. Or, may be they could be used as bedroom accessories. There would be a graphic brain record of every encounter. And, the concluding remarks would be something like: "Thank you, dear. The scan shows you weren't faking it". Brain scans can also be used in the corporate sector while recruiting staff and to study the decision-making prowess of executives.

To bypass security barriers, terrorists will study the advances in the scanning technologies and find out ways of subverting them. They will be trained to think about Liz Hurley, Shilpa Shetty or Hrithik Roshan when they approach scanners. Just as the 9/11 terrorists were aeroplane techies, terrorists of the future will be brain techies.

There is a basic law of warfare: every weapons system or strategy eventually provokes reversal. This is true for security measures too. But, thinking about this future conflict can also be a brain stimulating exercise.

First Published: Apr 27, 2007 00:42 IST

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