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ACLU Files for Info on New Brain-Scan Tech 257

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the also-requesting-information-on-psychics dept.
An anonymous reader writes "According to their website, the ACLU has filed a FOIA request seeking information on the new Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging service being made available to the government for use on suspected terrorists which can produce 'live, real-time images of people's brains as they answer questions, view images, listen to sounds, and respond to other stimuli. [...] These brain-scanning technologies are far from ready for forensic uses and if deployed will inevitably be misused and misunderstood," said Barry Steinhardt, Director of the ACLU's Technology and Liberty Project. "This technology must not be deployed until it is proven effective -- and we are a long way away from that point, according to scientists in the field,"'"
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ACLU Files for Info on New Brain-Scan Tech

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  • by mmell (832646) <mmell@hotmail.com> on Wednesday June 28, 2006 @05:14PM (#15624057)
    for somebody who wonders: why do scientists always insist on technology being "reliable" before the government can use it? I ask you, where would we be if we had left science to be "certain" that the A-bomb would work back in '45? I'll tell you where . . . not here!

    Pesky scientists! Won't let the government fry terrorists just because the proof isn't surefire. Imagine!

    • Because when you don't, you get crap like 'lie detectors'.

    • Re:First post(?) (Score:5, Insightful)

      by TubeSteak (669689) on Wednesday June 28, 2006 @06:05PM (#15624409) Journal
      why do scientists always insist on technology being "reliable" before the government can use it?
      Because unreliable tech won't hold up in a court of law?

      Not that a court of law is where most 'terrorists,' detained by the gov't, have ended up.

      A better idea is if the Alphabet Agencies (CIA/DoD/NSA/DoJ/etc) uses FMRI's for security screenings, in the same way that polygraph's are used. That way science can build up a body of knowledge at the Federal Gov'ts expense and the results can be backed up with polygraphs.
      • Windows did
      • Re:First post(?) (Score:5, Informative)

        by Dun Malg (230075) on Wednesday June 28, 2006 @09:29PM (#15625270) Homepage
        A better idea is if the Alphabet Agencies (CIA/DoD/NSA/DoJ/etc) uses FMRI's for security screenings, in the same way that polygraph's are used. That way science can build up a body of knowledge at the Federal Gov'ts expense and the results can be backed up with polygraphs.

        Polygraphs can't back up shit. They're a pile of crap. There are no physiological reactions that can be specifically atributed to deception. That's why they're not permitted as evidence in any court. Why do you think it is that the two possible results of a polygraph are "shows signs of deception" or "inconclusive"? Polygraph results are highly subjective interpretations of ill-defined measurements. Baseline questions are asked that supposedly set the thresholds for "truth" and "deception", but the machines largely rely on the subject's subconscious fear that the machine is catching them in the lie. There isn't a red light or buzzer on the machine that goes off every time the subject lies. What you have is just one man's opinion of what a lot of jumpy marks on graph paper mean in relation to your guilt or innocence-- influenced, of course, by his guess, based upon what he has heard about you, and deductions he draws from how you appear and act.

        • Re:First post(?) (Score:4, Informative)

          by BWJones (18351) * on Wednesday June 28, 2006 @11:28PM (#15625650) Homepage Journal
          Furthermore, if you know what you are doing, you can influence the polygraph any way you want it (trust me, I teach neurophysiology to medical students). There are other methods of lie detection that are harder to spoof such as the P300 method (cortical evoked potential at 300ms delay in normal persons signifying recognition) being investigated, but even this method has it's problems in that you cannot discriminate why someone may elicit a P300. I would also suspect that interpretation of fMRIs can also be confused by someone who "knows" how to lie. The trick is to avoid delivering "tells" that are physiologic manifestations of deception and build yourself a reality behind the lie. I've said it before, but the truth is that there is no foundation in physiology that mandates that one has to reveal anything when stating something that is not in fact, the truth. A good liar will be able to deceive the device and more importantly, the interpreter of the device because they are able to LIVE the lie.
    • In WWII's 1945, America was facing at least several more months of massive deaths, even in victory over Japan. Perhaps a permanent counterinsurgency in occupied Japan. Or joint occupation of Japan/Pacific with Russia, as in Europe. The atomic bombs had already been tested to "work" (massive explosions, but still only "local" effects) in the American desert.

      In other words, reliable enough, compared to the alternative.

      However, not tested enough to protect ourselves from fallout and other contamination. And ce
  • by Aqws (932918) on Wednesday June 28, 2006 @05:16PM (#15624068) Journal
    Guess the tinfoil hat brigade may of been on to something.
    • If you've seen the videos I've seen you won't want to be wearing a tin foil hat when you're near and MRI machine........
      • by Intron (870560) on Wednesday June 28, 2006 @05:25PM (#15624138)
        Never turn on an MRI machine in a hardware store. Trust me.
      • I don't actually think a tin foil hat would cause a problem. As far as I know tin is non-magnetic. As is alluminum foil (which is actually what most people would wear anyhow as I don't know anywhere you can buy actual tin foil). Of course, i wouldn't reccomend wearing an iron hat (which I wouldn't reccomend wearing anyhow), or a steel-foil (if such a thing exists) hat in an MRI machine. Even then foil is pretty maleable (by definition) and would likely just rip before doing anything to you.

        Phil
        • Aluminum is conductive and can carry a current induced by a changing magnetic field. Probably not a lot compared to typical conductors we use for shielding, but I'm sure a thing aluminum hat would provide some protection. Probably not much more than not washing your hair for a couple of weeks though. :-)
      • Feel free to correct me if I'm missing something, but the fact that tin (or aluminum) foil are non-ferrous shouldn't raise a problem around MRI's...
    • Nope, it was a conspiracy [mit.edu]
    • Re:Tinfoil hats (Score:2, Interesting)

      by aymanh (892834)
      Well yeah, this time the tinfoil hat joke is on-topic, expect a flood of such comments :p
  • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Wednesday June 28, 2006 @05:16PM (#15624072) Journal
    Surely they know that the only scientific way of telling if someone is a terrorist or not is to measure the space between their eyes. Terrorists are scientifically proven to have eyes closer together the The Good Guys(TM)
  • by gasmonso (929871) on Wednesday June 28, 2006 @05:20PM (#15624092) Homepage

    Look at lie detectors, we still don't understand those and they have proven time and time again to be faulty at best. Depending on this a sole source of information is foolish.

    http://religiousfreaks.com/ [religiousfreaks.com]
    • I have had to take a lie detector test for work. I get really paniced under pressure and they could not get a good reading cause my vitals were always high.
    • by F_Scentura (250214) on Wednesday June 28, 2006 @05:38PM (#15624237)
      As with lie detectors, I assume that these are used to cause the to usee spontaneously provide a (truthful) confession, not for accuracy. Hey, it's not torture.
      • As with lie detectors, I assume that these are used to cause the to usee spontaneously provide a (truthful) confession, not for accuracy.

        Any chance I could get my hands on one of those brain scanners in order to figure out what this guy is saying? ;-)

    • by Cryptnotic (154382) * on Wednesday June 28, 2006 @05:38PM (#15624239) Homepage
      Thus, they can be a useful tool. Lie detectors aren't black or white type machines but they can give hints. For example, if someone is questioned about a large number of things, and he gets nervous when answering certain questions, that might be a good place to start investigating. And no one would ever use a single source of information for that kind of thing, so that isn't an issue.

      • And no one would ever use a single source of information for that kind of thing, so that isn't an issue.
        Yeah, we're all fortunate that humans don't seek out quick, simple solutions to complex problems at the cost of not actually solving the problem...
      • by CosmeticLobotamy (155360) on Wednesday June 28, 2006 @05:57PM (#15624357)
        if someone is questioned about a large number of things, and he gets nervous when answering certain questions, that might be a good place to start investigating.

        Or they know that that question is the one you think they did. I had to be polygraphed for a job ("Of course it's voluntary. We're just not hiring you because we liked the other guy's hair better."). In the pre-interview, they ask if you've ever been questioned by police, so I said yes. Which is true. When I was a kid, I was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Didn't do a damn thing, and the cops knew it, but this guy didn't ask them. He asked me about it 45 times in the machine, and obviously that question was important, and it made me nervous every time.

        They don't actually tell you the results of those things, but for some reason, I went from being a lock with, "It's just a formality. Call when they're done, we'll get you set up," to not answering my calls for a week until they called to tell me they offered the job to someone else.

        Obviously I can't be sure that's why. Maybe my fly was open. But the polygraph's the only reason I can think of.

        What I particularly loved was at the end, the guy looks upset and says, "Were you controlling your breathing?" Yes! You strapped a frigging cable around my torso and told me to keep still! Stupid frigging *grumble* *grumble*...
        • You submitted to it, voluntarily. (Yes, it was voluntary unless someone was forcing you to try for this particular job.) You pretty much forfeited your right to bitch about them using it. You can't argue about your convictions if you don't have the courage to uphold them.
        • Requiring to be polygraphed for a job is fucked up, but it is also not the point. What they did was illegal, the fact that they got away with it is unfortunate, but it does not reflect an error in the system.

          It is a completely different situation when it comes to law enforcement. If you say no to a polygraph, there is not shit they can do about it. They can't use the fact that you said no to a polygraph as evidence, so it really has no consequence whether you said no or not. It might throw some suspicion y

      • And no one would ever use a single source of information for that kind of thing...

        Such as depending on the testimony of 'Curveball' as proof of mobile chemical weapons factories in Iraq?

        • Such as depending on the testimony of 'Curveball' as proof of mobile chemical weapons factories in Iraq?

          I have no idea who the hell curveball is. That being said - intelligence operations is NOT the same as a court of law. In intelligence, it is very, very, VERY rare that you get the equiv. of a smoking gun. 99.9999% of the time, the most you get is a balance of probabilities ..... and the trick then is to figure out how much you do trust the source, and what you consider the probabilities to be. Guess w
          • In intelligence, it is very, very, VERY rare that you get the equiv. of a smoking gun. 99.9999% of the time, the most you get is a balance of probabilities ...

            I would recommend to anyone who is against lie-detector type machines to look at this bayesian reasoning introduction [yudkowsky.net]. The link does not discuss lie detectors in particular, but demonstrates how it is possible to scientifically use machines that are 60%/40% right/wrong etc..

            In this actual case I feel the ACLU is preying on the fact that most people
    • Look at lie detectors, we still don't understand those and they have proven time and time again to be faulty at best Actually, we *do* understand the normal polygraph lie detector - that's why we know why it is unreliable.

      Depending on this a sole source of information is foolish. I don't think anybody is talking about using it as a sole source of information. Even if they *are* - once the technology has been proven - would that be a bad thing?

      Fingerprints were accepted long before we had any real unders
  • ACLU (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 28, 2006 @05:21PM (#15624108)
    Why does ACLU hate America so much?
  • by ruben.gutierrez (913239) on Wednesday June 28, 2006 @05:27PM (#15624158)
    ... to foiling thought crime forever. By the way, oil production is up 20%, the Dow Jones is up 12 points, unemployment is down to 1%, North Korea has agreed to halt their missle testing, and the war in Iraq is over.
  • by expro (597113) on Wednesday June 28, 2006 @05:28PM (#15624164)
    Monthly Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging of candidate or elected politicians to find out what part of what they spew is intended to be deceptive.
  • Effective? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Cryptnotic (154382) * on Wednesday June 28, 2006 @05:29PM (#15624170) Homepage
    Why would it need to be effective? If you could use this thing to trick the suspected terrorist into revealing information, isn't that an effective use of the system? The ACLU seems to want the world to know that the technology doesn't work. All that will do is make interrogation of suspects less effective.

    • Then why not just attach a fake box to the suspect's head and tell them it's a real brain scanner? I'm sure they never get to see the results anyway, so why build the real thing when you can fake them with little cost? They must be building the real thing because they expect real results.
      • Maybe that's exactly what they're gonna do ;) Think about it... widely advertise that you've got a mind reading device, and people start spewing the truth just cuz they think you could actually tell if they're lying.
    • Brilliant. With that line of reasoning, the government will be able to shut down the ACLU for "aiding terrorists". You should apply for a job in the Bush administration; they need people with your way of thinking.
  • by jamiesan (715069) on Wednesday June 28, 2006 @05:33PM (#15624205) Homepage Journal
    I pulled this out of my scrabble bag. If those pan-dimensional beings would've had this technology, they wouldn't have wanted to disect Artur's brain.
    • I pulled this out of my scrabble bag. If those pan-dimensional beings would've had this technology, they wouldn't have wanted to disect Artur's brain.

      No entry found for disect.
      Did you mean dissect [reference.com]?

      Are you really that lame, or did you just spell it that way to save a character because you ran out of space?

  • of the brain, using fMRI to detect lies is a load of dung. Way slower to react than lie detectors, and a horrible image resolution. I'm not saying it's entirely impossible, I just severely doubt the possibility of determining guilt by brain lobe activation levels.
  • In the field (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mattsucks (541950) on Wednesday June 28, 2006 @05:40PM (#15624253) Homepage
    "This technology must not be deployed until it is proven effective -- and we are a long way away from that point, according to scientists in the field,"
    I imagine anyone likely to find themselves in this thing's "field" would agree.
  • by StateOfTheUnion (762194) on Wednesday June 28, 2006 @05:40PM (#15624258) Homepage
    fMRI is pretty primitive . . . just realtime video of where the blood goes in the brain. Using it to detect lies is like using Sherlock Holmes magnifying lens to scientifically examine the Moon from the Earth. The resolution and focus is horrible with respect to the density of information processing in the brain.

    Additionally, research into decision making processes and incentives by psychologist and economists using fMRI is in its infancy. To believe that we could accurately detect lies with fMRI when we don't even know how people make decisions or react to incentives is impossibly optimistic. The promise of a reduced sentence for telling the truth could completely change the fMRI results. The fact that the Guantanamo guard that kicked the sh*t out of you last week is in the room could completely change the fMRI results. The color of the room may change the fMRI results. And so on . . .

    We just don't have enough historical data to do this reliably.

    • Well, you don't necessarily need to know much except how the overall pattern differs between lying and telling the truth. There have been several studies to do it recently that have had some success. For example:

      Kozel FA, Johnson KA, Mu Q, Grenesko EL, Laken SJ, George MS. (2005) Biol Psychiatry. Oct 15;58(8):605-13.
      Detecting deception using functional magnetic resonance imaging.

      BACKGROUND: The ability to accurately detect deception is presently very limited. Detecting deception might be more acc

    • by Chalex (71702) on Wednesday June 28, 2006 @06:06PM (#15624414) Homepage
      I think that's exactly the point the ACLU is trying to make. This technology shouldn't be used by the government as part of any decision-making process. The article writer may have added a bit of sensationalism.
    • What we are witnessing is terror-hysteria.

      There is tremendous pressure on intel guys to crack the network, and if the detainees contact or knowledge is not exciting/terrifying enough, well, we have ways of making him talk more.

      This is basically phrenology with pretty lights instead of bumps on the head.
    • We could just go back to an age old system. We just ask them a question, then throw them in the water. If they are lying, the water will reject them and they will float. If the water accepts them, and they stay down, we know they told the truth. Easy!
  • I for one (Score:3, Funny)

    by bherman (531936) on Wednesday June 28, 2006 @05:48PM (#15624305) Homepage
    welcome our new government overlords



    oh crap......now they can tell I'm lying about that.
  • Comments (Score:5, Informative)

    by venicebeach (702856) on Wednesday June 28, 2006 @05:54PM (#15624347) Homepage Journal
    First, a correction. The article says:
    The most likely technology to be used for anti-terrorism purposes is Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI), which can produce live, real-time images of people's brains as they answer questions, view images, listen to sounds, and respond to other stimuli.
    fMRI does not produce live, real-time images of brain activity. At best, this is misleading. First, temporal resoultion of fMRI is very poor when compared with the speed of firing of neurons. A typical fMRI experiment takes a picture of the whole brain every 1.5-4 seconds. Furthermore, the blood oxygenation changes measured with fMRI are slow and cause an effective temporal blurring of the data (blood peaks about 6 seconds after brain activity). To determine which changes relate to changes in psychological function, much offline processing is necessary. Yes, it is possible and has been acheived in some cases to have semi-real-time online analysis, but this is certainly not the norm. What you typically end up with at the end of an fMRI experiment is a static map showing the extent to which signal at each voxel correlates with your task of interest.

    Now as for the issue at hand, it is certainly premature to use fMRI as a reliable lie detector or something like it. However, the article does not really specify how it is being used. If data is being collected to advance the reliabilty of this tool as a lie detector then it could be effective sooner rather than later.
    • There is actually a way to use an fMRI for real-time video. I've seen it up to about 15 fps. The resolution, however, is quite a bit worse and AFAIK its not useful for BOLD analysis which is why this capability is largely ignored by brain imaging researchers.
    • Couldn't you slow down the neural activity of the brain while scanning?

      I doubt you'd be able to drop the actual speed of neural firing down to the scanning speed (if it really is 1s or more) but you might be able to get more simulated temporal resolution if you make the activity you're looking for occur over longer periods.

      If we're talking about interrogation of suspected terrorists, I doubt that shooting them up on some barbituates is really off the table. A whole lot of things that might not be "appropria
  • by pehrs (690959)
    I heard a lecture by an American professor researching this kind of systems about a year back. It was interesting, but I don't remember all the details. Here is what I remember from the lecture.

    He got defence grants (DARPA?), but was rather open with what they were doing and what they could do. He was using MRI and CT and tried to figure out what people were thinking of. His goal was to construct a lie detector. He used neural networks that were trained information about activity in different parts of the b
  • Something similar (Score:5, Interesting)

    by drspliff (652992) <harry.roberts@NOSPAM.midnight-labs.org> on Wednesday June 28, 2006 @05:59PM (#15624367)
    There was one of these late-night Open University* programs on a few years ago that covered something very similar (although I suspect a little less advanced).

    Basicly people were sat infront of a screen and displayed keywords, pictures of people or places etc. and had the general level of electrical avtivity going on in their brains recorded. Later on the activity log was matched against the timeline of what they were looking at and you could very clearly see the difference between questions that had no relation to them and questions that did.

    It's not a magic solution to interigation, but if you ask the right questions properly (which includes things that they know nothing about, or for example showing pictures of cute puppies or family members etc.) then it could really help as there's no known way to control these specific reactions (as it's possible with traditional lie detectors.

    I'm sure the professor was an American, but I can't remember his name.. any help finding how this progressed and how it compares to what's discussed in the article would be cool.

    * To you non-british people, the OU is a university in which you can study at home/abroad and shows educational material late at night on the 'public' TV channels.
  • by mi (197448) <slashdot-2012@virtual-estates.net> on Wednesday June 28, 2006 @05:59PM (#15624376) Homepage
    These brain-scanning technologies are far from ready for forensic uses and if deployed will inevitably be misused and misunderstood.

    The results, if any, will be presented in courts, with experts from defense and prosecution debating their merits in front of juries. This happens to fingerprints, DNA, speed radars, and all other technologies used in crime-fighting.

    In short, I feel, my ACLU donation is being misused...

    • It is important to note that the ACLU has only file a FOIA request at this point: they haven't filed expensive lawsuits or spent a ton of money yet -- so don't jump to complain just yet.
    • They ARE being misused!
      From the NYT:

      http://www.nytimes.com/2006/05/24/us/24aclu.html?e x=1306123200&en=cd8a5fd1f6941a5d&ei=5090&partner=r ssuserland&emc=rss [nytimes.com]

      By STEPHANIE STROM
      Published: May 24, 2006

      The American Civil Liberties Union is weighing new standards that would discourage its board members from publicly criticizing the organization's policies and internal administration.

      "Where an individual director disagrees with a board position on matters of civil liberties policy, the director sho
    • How often have people suspected of terrorism been put infront of a judge and jury lately?
    • by k98sven (324383) on Wednesday June 28, 2006 @06:33PM (#15624572) Journal
      The results, if any, will be presented in courts, with experts from defense and prosecution debating their merits in front of juries. This happens to fingerprints, DNA, speed radars, and all other technologies used in crime-fighting.

      In short, I feel, my ACLU donation is being misused...


      But not your tax dollars? (Which unlike your donation, isn't voluntary..)

      Basically what you're saying here seems to be that law enforcement should be allowed to use whatever hokey crackpot ideas it wants to, and it's up to the courts to say if it's no good or not?

      First off, if the government is subjecting people to any kind of scans, be it speed radars or palm-reading, that is a civil rights issue, and something we should be given the full and complete details of. That is definitely an ACLU issue in my book.

      Second, the courts can only test what's being put in front of them. Should this stuff go unquestioned as long as noone uses it in court? I don't think so. In particular when it's being used on non-US citizens which you apparently can incarcerate nowadays without bothering with a trial.

      Third, as a taxpayer, why the heck shouldn't I be concerned about the validity of any law-enforcement method (or any method in general) the government is blowing my money on? If the FBI is making phone calls to the Psychic Hotline to find out where Osama is, then you bet I'm concerned, regardless if that'll hold up in court or not!

       
  • by Ungrounded Lightning (62228) on Wednesday June 28, 2006 @06:29PM (#15624543) Journal
    Seems to me there are two possible uses:

      1) Developing intelligence to interdict terrorist acts.
      2) Developing evidence to be used in criminal prosecution against the person being scanned.

    1 is fair game. Terrorism and actions to prevent it is war, while MRI doesn't cause pain or damage to the subject (unless he happens to have, say, shrapnel in his body to be yanked on by the magnet).

    2 is a violation of the prohibitions against unreasonable search and compelling an accused to testify against himself.

    Seems to me the government has a choice: They can use the device on the suspected terrorist if they decide it's worth letting him go later (rather than prosecuting him) for detecting and stopping the plot.

    Once they've extracted info with it and used it in their further actions, it will be essentially impossible to show that evidence they collect later was in no way derived from the information they extracted using the machine. It becomes "fruit of the poisoned tree" and inadmissable.

    (By the way: Don't bring up the Geneva Accords. They specifically exclude people who violate certain "rules of civilized warfare", such as fighting in uniform, correctly identifying themselves, targeting only war infrastructure rather than civilians, etc. Terrorists miss on many of these qualifications, and it only takes one. Such people are NOT SUPPOSED to get the convention-specified treatment of a prisoner of war. This was done deliberately in the original formulation of the accords, to create an incentive for fighters, armies, and the organizations that field them to obey the rules in turn.)
    • (By the way: Don't bring up the Geneva Accords. They specifically exclude people who violate certain "rules of civilized warfare", such as fighting in uniform, correctly identifying themselves, targeting only war infrastructure rather than civilians, etc. Terrorists miss on many of these qualifications, and it only takes one. Such people are NOT SUPPOSED to get the convention-specified treatment of a prisoner of war. This was done deliberately in the original formulation of the accords, to create an incenti
      • The grandparent is conveniently ignoring the fact that the Geneva Convention contains a whole other section dealing with what to do with people who don't qualify as regular combatants. Torturing them isn't allowed either.
  • by sailracer6 (262434) on Wednesday June 28, 2006 @06:40PM (#15624608) Journal
    Just think what this device could do for politics!

    Morbo: "Morbo demands an answer to the following question. If you saw a delicious candy in the hands of a small child. Would you seize and consume it?"

    John Jackson: "Unthinkable."

    Jack Johnson: "I wouldn't think of it."

    Morbo: "What about you, Mr. Nixon? I remind you that you are under a truth-o-scope."

    Nixon [sweating]: "The question is vague. You don't say what kind of candy and whether anyone is watching. And anyway I certainly wouldn't harm the child."
  • by wanax (46819) on Wednesday June 28, 2006 @07:02PM (#15624722)
    I won't rehash posts about how far fMRI is away from being a useful measuring device in this regard, since deviations are generally small enough that measurements over many trials must be aggregated to achieve significant results in carefully controlled conditions. But even if fMRI's were much better, and we understood how the brain worked much more closely this would still be of limited to no usefulness as an actual scientific method (it would probably would better than the polygraph, but would still be pseudoscience).

    The problem is that the polygraph works in this basic manner:
    The examiner asks you a whole bunch of filler questions, claiming these are 'controls.' These results are all ignored. Questions in this phase are things like "Is today Tuesday?". Then the examiner intersperses the real controls (he's already lied to you about what they are), questions which they'll preface with ominous portents if you answer affirmatively, so the examiner assumes you're going to lie about them ("Have you ever cheated on a girlfriend? Have you ever used marijuana?).

    Then the examiner takes the second controls and compares them to his test questions. If you're test questions exceed the response from the (presumed to be lying) controls, the examiner assumes you're lying. Thus, telling the truth throughout the entire procedure is liable to land you in hot water. (For more information, from an admittedley 'biased' site, but I think they're pretty clear can be found at http://www.antipolygraph.org/ [antipolygraph.org]).

    However, a true lie detector test would require a much more coherent defintion of what a lie is, which is very hard to create. Most people would agree that actively misleading somebody with no regard to your factual knowledge is lying. This also tends to be a useless type of lie in these situations because people get there stories mixed up, or they don't think through all the details. Much more common types of lies, are witholding useful information while truthfully relating aspects of the response, or changing the context of the answer, and other things which mislead but do not show complete disregard for the truth. The best lies in the intelligence useful/lessness sense are those that only minorly distort the truth, but in a particularly significant way.

    Until you can metrize all these different types of not being truthful, or of avoiding certain facts etc, and until you can metrize their reponses for each individual (my guess is that this type of thing will have a high variance between people), you can't produce anything that can reasonably be called a scientific lie detector.
  • by nurb432 (527695) on Wednesday June 28, 2006 @07:04PM (#15624736) Homepage Journal
    Tomrrow we scan little billy in gradeschool, "just in case he has some tendencies"
  • by pongo000 (97357) on Wednesday June 28, 2006 @07:12PM (#15624777)
    These brain-scanning technologies are far from ready for forensic uses


    So are polygraph tests, yet these are routinely used in a "forensic" capacity.

    Since when has the unsuitability of polygraphs for forensic use [psychologymatters.org] ever stopped the government from using such technology to their own purposes?

    Bravo to the ACLU for taking this on. Unfortunately, their actions will be minimalized over the government's assertion that this technology will catch more terrorists. And before you know it, you'll be submitting to brain scans during your next employment interview, or police interrogation.
  • by VoidEngineer (633446) on Wednesday June 28, 2006 @07:17PM (#15624804)
    *** CLANK *** CLANK *** CLANK ***

    Investigator: What were you doing on the 8th of June?

    *** CLANK *** CLANK *** CLANK ***

    Suspect: What?

    *** CLANK *** CLANK *** CLANK ***

    Investigator: What were you doing on the 8th of June?

    *** CLANK *** CLANK *** CLANK ***

    Suspect: WHAT?!

    *** CLANK *** CLANK *** CLANK ***

    Investigator: WHAT WHERE YOU DOING ON THE 8TH OF JUNE?!

    *** CLANK *** CLANK *** CLANK ***

    Suspect: WHAT?! I CANT HEAR YOU!!

    *** CLANK *** CLANK *** CLANK ***

    Investigator: WHAT WHERE YOU...

    Investigator: Can you turn the noise on this thing down?

    Technologist: Not really, but I'll see see what I can do.

    *** THUNK *** THUNK *** THUNK ***

    Investigator: What were you doing on the 8th of June?

    *** THUNK *** THUNK *** THUNK ***

    Suspect: WHAT?!

    (those MRI scanners are *real* loud)
  • Voight-Kampf? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by stummies (868371)
    Anyone else think of this?

    Holden: You look down and you see a Terrorist, Leon, he's crawling toward you-
    Leon: Terrorist, what's that?
    Holden: Know what a Democrat is?
    Leon: Of course.
    Holden: Same thing.
  • by Kozar_The_Malignant (738483) on Wednesday June 28, 2006 @08:01PM (#15624967)
    These guys have it all wrong. You can tell the terrorists, criminals, and other defectives by measuring the shape of thier skull. Forensic phrenology also has the advantage of requiring less expensive hardware leaving more of the budget to be spent on comely, scantily-clad lab assistants and an adequate supply of lab alcohol.
  • by electrosoccertux (874415) on Wednesday June 28, 2006 @10:31PM (#15625472)
    My problem with these things are that they immediately begin putting me on my guard to prove my innocence. Think about it. This machine is trying to discern truth from chemical processes and electrical pulses on my skin. There are too many stupid people who don't understand how it works, and therefore think it is failsafe (sort of like the person that doesn't understand a digital lock and therefore thinks it is somehow more secure. Nevermind that pressing buttons 4 and 8 together while pressing "Enter" always unlocks the door). I know I would fail one of these the moment they put me on it. I get incredibly nervous whenever I'm questioned about things, mainly because I often got in trouble for the smallest offences as a child (rolling a pebble across the room after a kid threw it at me in 4th grade...stupid stuff like that...private school garbage). Taking notes home to mom had to be the most inhumane punishment ever. Talk to ME about it, don't leave me in the dark for hours on end worrying if I'm gonna get spanked when I get home.

    I can see it happening right now, I get interrogated because I'm a suspect who was near a crime scene I don't know about. They hook me up to a lie detector/FMRI, then the big question comes along, "did you murder [person]?" I would freak regardless of whether or not I'd done it, simply because of the weight of the situation. Possibility of prison for life, even if I hadn't done a thing. I have a feeling people are too interested in their own agenda (which in this case would be convicting _someone_ like me, even if I didn't do it and they don't think I did) to worry about looking at all the evidence. They can't even fight for their own rights, why should they give a hoot about mine? Lie detector says I broke out in sweat and my pulse quicked when they asked me if I was the murderer. There's no way that thing could ever know my history and interpret the results objectively in light of the evidence. I'd be the 20% that lie detectors incorrectly fail.

It's a poor workman who blames his tools.

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