Truth be told, being an engineer and a programmer, a brain computer interface (BCI) or headband is something I crave to the core of my being. The ease of having a swype style mental keyboard. The ability to think a mouse into position and click, highlight, copy, and paste is amazing. The ability to visualize an image onto the screen (1), with just a thought. The ability to record and playback events through my own eyes. This seems like science fiction yet IBM predicts that mind reading computers are less than five years away.
This is worrisome with the continued slow erosion of the US fourth amendment and EU privacy rights. Combine that with warrant-less wire tapping and the push to have ISP’s track everything you do online, and you have serious issues. Computer programs now store most of what you type temporarily so that you can undo mistakes. They cache the websites you have visited and the searches you have done. They store the files you have opened recently. Now imagine a time when there are no keyboards or mice, when you wear a headband instead of a using a keyboard. When you think to your computer. The programs will likely store your thoughts.
Imagine your first day with a new BCI headband. You just picked it up at the local computer store, the clerk blue toothed it to your phone with 64 T-bytes of memory and you turn it on and begin recording. You you look at the person passing by, think about work, how your boss is a jerk, you wife annoys you, your kids screaming, and fantasize about the woman in the red dress that just walked by. You then begin your drive home and get pulled over.
What random memory could a law officer find while pulling someone over for a traffic violation. It is an interesting thought, in light of how often police search cellphones without a warrant, and US customs agents need no warrant is needed to search through your electronics. In this near future an officer is able to pick up your BCI and go through your last mental notes, any stray stored fantasies, or random thoughts. That is the first step towards saying good bye to the fifth amendment, having thought police (*), and allowing dreams and fantasies to be used against you in a court of law.
Between ISP monitoring, the drift away from the fundamental rights of the US Constitution, ACTA in the EU and US, never ending expansions of copyright lengths, warrant-less wire tapping, the cloud, and mission creep this is a reality far from what our founding fathers could have ever predicted when penning the constitution.
In ten years, don’t worry when a politician asserts. “If you aren’t thinking anything wrong, then you shouldn’t worry about us monitoring your thoughts.” after all he only has your best interest in mind.