Living in the Future
Almost constantly these days I'm struck by the feeling that I'm actually living in the future, that stuff I read about in what seemed like fairly far-fetched science fiction novels when I was a teenager are suddenly happening all around me right now. Sometimes it almost occurs to me to wonder if we aren't all characters in someone's SF novel, so strange and bizarre does reality seem any more.
Anyway, here's the latest bit of news to bring that odd sensation crashing down on me again: scientists have used a technique referred to as "brain fingerprinting" to measure neural responses to a crime scene, which may well lead to a murder conviction being overturned. The implications of this are simultaneously kind of nifty and utterly terrifying. "Until recently," says the article, "brain scientists were hampered by two rigid barriers: the skull and ethics." Looks like the skull is becoming less and less of a barrier, and that it may be past time to start thinking long and hard about the ethics. I definitely recommend reading the article; it's got a very good discussion of some of the ethical conundra involved, not just with this "brain fingerprinting" thing, but also with a number of other related and equally nifty/terrifying issues.