Tuesday, February 02, 2010

PJTV: Mind reading 101


Is science advanced to the point where a jury could decide a man's guilt through mind reading? What if reading a defendant's memory could betray their guilt? Can we determine the guilt or innocence of a terrorist just by scanning his brain?

Glenn and I talk to Professor Walter Sinnott-Armstrong about the legal and psychological aspects of the new science of Neurolaw. Is it ethical? Should the government have the power to use magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to "read people's minds"? Does it really work? Find out.

You can watch the show here.

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10 Comments:

Blogger Locomotive Breath said...

Minority Report

7:37 AM, February 02, 2010  
Blogger Helen said...

Locomotive Breath,

Yes, we talk about the movie in the show.

9:40 AM, February 02, 2010  
Blogger Professor Hale said...

I can't watch the video but wish to comment on the ethical grounds for mindreading.

We have a fifth amendment in the constitution for a specific reason, which addresses a specific abuse by the British in the mid 1700's. That abuse was beating a confession out of someone. By granting that no person could be compelled to testify against themselves, there was thereby no profit for the agents of the government to resort to any means to gain such a confession. It was not, as people presume today to protect guilty people from the truth of their crimes.

Perfect justice is 100% certainty that guilty people are found guilty of their crimes and innocent people are released promptly and without the need for defensive measures that are themselves punitively harsh.

So, if MRI or similar scanning could prove conclusively to be reliable, then it should be admissible, even if compelled. Even without 100% certainty, it could be used as supporting evidence.

Like lie detector tests today are not admissible because interpreting the results are highly subjective, yet the willingness of the accused to take one is also suggestive of his innocence.

9:57 AM, February 02, 2010  
Blogger Ern said...

Using fMRIs or similar techniques would just about have to be better than anything that involves lawyers.

10:44 AM, February 02, 2010  
Blogger Oligonicella said...

MRIs don't read minds. They give a picture of brain area activity. Not the same thing.

Given a person decides to commit murder: if a person derives great pleasure from hurting others, that brain scan will not resemble one from a person who finds it a distasteful task. Yet, both have decided to commit murder.

Regardless if the technology becomes available, I would argue and strive to not allow it. It is not a small step from reading a mind to determine guilt of a crime and reading a mind to determine political affiliation, those activities will be in adjacent rooms.

11:30 AM, February 02, 2010  
Blogger Cham said...

Until an MRI can produce both video, audio and a timestamp, I doubt it will be usable in any court of law. Nice try, no cigar.

12:58 PM, February 02, 2010  
Blogger vivictius said...

I can see not allowing it in legal issues but it may end up being usefull for the military conducting interrogations.

1:00 PM, February 02, 2010  
Blogger LPF said...

Independent of any constitutionality questions, I think the logical place to implement it first is in congressional ethics investigations.

1:19 PM, February 02, 2010  
Blogger fred said...

You could not force a defendant to undergo a scan without his consent...his lawyer would object. he would then claim the 5th--the right not to testify against himself.. By compelling a scan, you would thus eliminate the 5th amendment. Which ones after that would you want to dump?

4:36 PM, February 02, 2010  
Blogger God Of Bacon said...

Summon the Royal Phrenologist!!

9:03 AM, February 03, 2010  

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