Quick, what are brain scans used for? Finding stuff like cancer right? Not anymore! Well, actually yes, still that -- but Science has also found a whole bunch of ways to use brain scans to predict awesomely, worryingly, creepily specific things about your future! Now serious men in lab coats can slap a machine on your head and predict stuff like what products you'll buy, which tests you'll fail in class and even how likely you are to be a raging drunk. It's the future!
Everybody get out your tin-foil hats.
5Catching Future Terrorists ... Literally
In an effort to replace the subtle molestations that occur every time we travel with something much less physically traumatizing (but perhaps more existentially disturbing), researchers have figured out how to tell whether or not a person is a terrorist just from brain scans. Which is great, because the old method of threatening to tell his mother wasn't very effectual.
Terrorist and future reality show star scans are remarkably similar.
Scientists at Northwestern University asked participants to think up a mock terrorist scheme. The subjects obligingly wrote down their plans, including all the details they could think of while surely wondering if this was all just some elaborate Patriot Act entrapment. They showed the plans to nobody until the experiment was over. The participants were then hooked up to brain scanners that measured a wave called P300, which, amongst other things, is sometimes associated with feelings of guilt and secrecy. As they scanned their EEGs, researchers showed the volunteers several names of major cities and, astoundingly, they could pinpoint which city the participant had planned on attacking -- as well as a few other key details like weapon of choice -- with 83 percent accuracy.
And that's from a cold scan: If the researchers had a few basic details of the terrorist's plan in advance -- stuff that the government already picks up from radio or email chatter -- they were able to bump that figure up to 100 percent. Absolute certainty.
Taping wires to your hair is just a formality.
Those are downright sci-fi levels of future prediction. And though the process comes with some caveats right now -- you'd basically have to catch the terrorist first to find out if you should've bothered catching them -- we're just a whittling machine and an elfin protagonist away from making Minority Report a reality.
But before you go off thinking how awesome that is, remember: You are not Tom Cruise in this movie. None of us are. We're all that weaselly guy with the scissors, wondering how the shock-troops knew of our plan to flood Colorado with counterfeit iPhones when we'd barely even thought it yet.