The Mind Reading Machines
Note: This is not as strange as it sounds. I saw machines at Teller AF Base that were on peoples heads, (A highly restricted area) and when I ask, I was told they were being programmed. The time to do this I was told, took only 30 minutes. This area was where men and women were trained to be assassins, prostitutes, etc. circa 1982.......Col.
In response to Lingenfelter's thoughtful article on Mind Control experiments, I would like to submit to you this article I wrote 17 years ago on the mind-reading machines (just think of how much progress we may have made in that time):
COMING - THE MIND READING MACHINES (excerpts) by William Hamilton © 1980
The Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) has spent over $1 million a year under agency contracts at the University of Illinois, UCLA, Stanford, MIT, and the University of Rochester to interpret an individual's brain waves. At UCLA they are working on the use of the EEG to control machines. It may be only a matter of time before the machines will be able to read a person's brain waves and determine just what that person is thinking.
At this time it is necessary to use electrodes placed on a person's head. A small special-purpose computer scans the peaks and valleys of the EEG to determine what the person is concentrating on and what he is ignoring. The computer makes a brain-wave graph which is interpreted by scientists. At MIT, however, scientists are studying magnetic brain waes that can produce graphs much like the electrical brain waves now being measured. Magnetic brain waves can be picked up over a foot away from the subject and amplified as if the brain were a radio transmitter. By the 21st century it may be possible to detect and amplify brain waves over several miles. It is not beyond the imagination to picture globe-encircling satellites that carry on-board mind-reading machines that scan the earth.
Psychologist Dr. Adam V. Reed of Rockefeller University seems to be one man who thinks implanting a computer in the human brain would be a good idea. This, he contends, would make it possible to read other people's minds. He says, "Once the neural language of human thought and memory has been decoded, it will be possible to program a computer in it and to transfer programs directly to the computer from the appropriate neurons of the human brain. Ideally the computer of the future should be an electronic extension of the natural brain...it should share with the brain the implementation of the informational processes which we think of as our minds. It should also cease to be an external, consciously manipulated artifact and become no different, from the user's viewpoint than any natural part of his brain. The limiting factor in the development of directly linked computers is likely to be our knowledge of the location of relevant neurons and of the internal code of our minds."
It is rumored that the Soviets have deciphered "the internal code of our minds." We know the Soviets have experimented with mind-altering microwaves. A Pentagon agency report said, "Sounds and possibly even words which appear to be originating intracranially can be induced by signal modulation at very low average power densities", and added that "combinations of frequencies and other signal characteristics to produce other neurological effects may be feasible in several years." The report said that along with microwave hearing, the Soviets have also studied various changes in body chemistry and functioning of the brain resulting from exposure to microwaves and other frequencies of electromagnetic radiation.
Dr. Jacques Vidal, head of the Brain Computer Interface Project at UCLA is experimenting with man/machine interfaces which can provide a motor link between a person and his surroundings. Noting that some people were becoming concerned with the implications of his experiments, he stated, "One application directly in mind is in the case of cerebral palsy victims, where there is no motor control, but eye control."
Vidal stressed that the mind-machine link he was talking about was from human to computer and not the other way around.
Dr. Lawrence Pinneo of the Stanford Research Institute has had success with a computer that read his mind. "Basically, the computer works on the principle that thoughts are simply silent words," he said. The computer relies on brain wave tracings that show distinctive patterns which correlate to individual words, whether spoken or thought.
Pinneo has been conducting experiments in which the subject dons an aviator-type helmet equipped with wires that record brain waves. The thoughts show up on a television screen. If the machine recognizes the word "up" in the subject's thoughts, it moves a dot up. It moves accordingly for the words down, left, right, slow, fast, stop, and others. The top score for the computer on a single silent word is 75%. The computer is currently very limited in the words it can interpret and Pinneo hopes to bypass the need for filing the whole dictionary in the machine's memory system by the use of "phonemes". Phonemes are the smallest units of speech and there are only 46.
The possibilities of the machine's use "are limited only by imagination." Because the project is funded by the Pentagon, Pinneo is often asked if the computer might someday be used to control the thoughts of citizens. "The Department of Defense is the only agency in such funding", he said, "It's up to the people to be vigilant against misuse."
Dr. Anlinker with Ames Reseaarch Center in California said research is angled toward "how to tune in on the brain's secrets" and how to "read the mind". Dr. Anlinker added: "Could these thought-control processes and mind reading generate a police state? Of course, its possible. But those are things we must live with. Science must progress."
Dr. J.E. Zimmerman, a physicist at the government's Bureau of Standards in Boulder, Colorado says that he picks up brain waves without being physically connected to the subject. "A very sensitive meter, placed near the head, detects magnetic emissions from the brain, and this information is fed into computers which analyze the brain wave patterns. It's quite feasible that this machine can be developed to such a level that it can be used over a distance - without the subject knowing it."
Despite the good intentions of the various scientists working on these mind-reading experiments, time and again, each have stated that these machines could be misused. Its exciting to think that machines could do our bidding by merely thinking a thought, but then it is somewhat terrifying to think that someone could read our thoughts without our knowledge. Could a computer not only read brain waves, but control brain waves in a neurocybernetic loop? A computer could be programmed to program human behavior and who, ultimately, does that programming?
This article was written from source articles published in the L.A. Times and Computerworld sometime in 1979.