Viewing brain scans now allows us to read minds.

Researchers have successfully trained algorithms to interpret brain scans and thereby infer what someone is thinking. The algorithm relies on being trained by matching specific words from someone telling a story, say, to the subject’s contemporaneous brain waves as they listen to the story. fMRI scanning collects and records the brain waves. The algorithm can then interpret and translate the subject’s subsequent thoughts for an observer to a fair degree of reliability. For example, the algorithm is pretty good at understanding the gist of someone’s thoughts. It also tends to prefer concrete words to abstract ones. The system is still a long way off from being able to be abused by the secret police, for example, since the training process requires the subject’s cooperation. But the potential for building our understanding of the brain is exciting.

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