Over the past decade scientists have gained a new understanding of brain function and structure through advances in medical imaging technologies such as magnetic resonance imaging and electroencephalography or EEG. Through these amazing medical advances we can now reliably measure changes in brain activity that is directly associated with thoughts, feelings, and behaviors; in theory leading to the reality of the previously science fiction concept of reading someone's mind.
With these new possibilities of using modern neuroscience techniques to gain direct access to a person's thoughts, feelings, or knowledge has come new ethical questions about the technology's applications. The most pressing of these questions revolves around the developing use of these technologies in lie-detection techniques. Lie-detection technology through these neuroscience techniques are currently being developed by United States defense agencies for the use in criminal and terrorist investigations. The new ethical questions that are raised with the use of these more reliable and precise methods are more complex and pressing than the questions normally raised with polygraph test. A study on these technologies done by the Center for Neuroscience and Society and the University of Pennsylvania presents the idea of "cognitive liberty," and stresses the importance of the debate over the limits that should be placed on the state's right to peer into an individual's thought processes with or without his or her consent, and the proper use of such information in civil, forensic, and security settings.
What should be the limits when it comes to the government finding intelligence and information about crimes, both large and small? Some say that the nation's security is worth giving up some freedoms while others won't give up any of their "cognitive liberty." What side of the debate are you on?
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