Imaging systems and your privacy.

Part 2: Seeing your thoughts.

Upon researching the previous privacy blog i stumbled upon some other stuff too.

For instance, have you at any point ever wondered why that police helicopter just kept going in circles above your neighborhood? Well, as it turns out they found out a rather clever trick to discover possible illegal  marijuana plantations.

Using heat camera’s they scan entire neighborhoods for unusual heat signatures, weed plantations are easy to spot as they usually clearly stand out on the special footage.

article-2461412-18C0914600000578-186_634x356Or as in the picture on the left, the plantation in this flat was just literally glowing with an absurd amount heat. (Corresponding article here.)

It’s another method to see whats going on inside people’s private property. But unlike the technology used in the first blog I personally don’t feel this one really invades privacy as it doesn’t pierce trough the surface of your home… What’s your opinion on this method?

On a way different level they are experimenting with stuff you can only dream of:
Looking into someone’s brain !

In the following Youtube clip researchers show video fragments to  test subjects while extracting brain activity data using fMRI. Subsequently they use this data to re-create the original footage by matching the original data with a huge database of random video’s (youtube clips). Sort of like how you can now use Google images by uploading a picture yourself and getting the same or similar pictures as a search result.

The footage in the red square is the original, shown to the test subject.
The footage in the green squares is the reconstructed video (3 different iterations are shown), which is composed by averaging out the video’s from the blue squares, which are possible matches.

Obviously the resulting  footage is currently relatively raw and inaccurate. The Youtube video above stems from 2011, but if you look at a video from only a year prior, you can see they have made huge advancements already.

If they ever get this right, they might be able to ‘fully’ visualize a persons thoughts and dreams.

So obviously this technology can go many ways. Both bad and good, obviously by the title of this blog i’m hinting towards possible privacy abuse when used against someones will. But it’s easy to see it has many possible positive applications too.

What do you see for the future of this technique? If it reaches it’s full potential, and provides a pretty clear image, will it mostly be used for evil or good?

Say now for instance, should the law be allowed to use this on key witnesses ?
Could it be used as a lie detector on inmates? What in the case of people who ended up in a coma or vegetative state.
Should the family be allowed to hook them up on such a machine, just to see what’s still going on in there?

I know it’s very hypothetical  and personal, it also covers a fairly ‘general’ side of privacy, but I’d still like your opinion…

Read the abstract and full text of the related research paper here:


3 thoughts on “Imaging systems and your privacy.

  1. First part:
    My view on the first part of your post is the same as with your other post (part 1): If this technology is used only in the right hands it can harm nobody, but if this is not the case it can be used for the wrong purposes.

    Second part:
    I think this technology is very dangerous. I already read an article about a similar research where they were trying to make a device that can recognize letters or number you think of and display them on a screen. That way you can write with your thoughts. This is very interesting for disabled people but it can also be very dangerous. Imaging a burglar who can put this kind of device on your head while you sleep and keep on telling you to think about your pin code of your bank account. Your body starts thinking about it and the numbers are displayed on his screen, easy money.

    For me this technology can do as much harm to people as help them and it is very important that it stays in the right hands.

    Besides that I am very impressed they are already this far with the technology. I never imagined this to be possible.


  2. I agree with noejens, this technique is revolutionary but can be very dangerous if it is used for the wrong cause. Although the opportunities are endless, so a lot of research into this topic is justified.


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