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To scan or not to scan, that is the question.

on January 14, 2012

As we explored the concept of the connectome in class, we can see how ideas can become realized with today’s technology.  In this digital age, it does not seem unthinkable to imagine that the connections in the human brain could one day be mapped, as only a few years ago we saw the completion of the human genome project.  I believe that scanning our brains for our memories can have some good outcomes, especially as we age into adulthood and as our memories continue to fade further.  Even though I do not completely understand such technology, I do believe that it could be extremely beneficial for people with neurological diseases like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.  And I would hope that cures, as well as preventative measures could be one result from connectome research.

Although mapping our brains can have many benefits, I am not totally sold on such technology.  First of all, since I view myself as a private person, I do not like the idea that my personal memories, thoughts and experiences could one day be accessible or bought by any or everyone.  I do not like the idea that my memories could be committed to a computer and could one day be used against me.  In this day and age of social networking, where people are more than willing to share all the details of their lives with EVERYONE else, online thieves and scammers have already found a way to use blog post to scam unsuspecting people.  For example, I recently heard a story warning grandparents to be weary of thieves who are posing as their grandchildren.  Apparently, thieves get the name of a grandparent from the grandchild’s facebook account, call the grandparent and act as the grandchild and ask the unknowing grandparent for money.  When the grandparent asks the ‘fake grandchild’ a personal question, the thief makes up a response based on the real grandchild’s facebook posts.  But that is just one example of an unintended consequence of social networking.  Another reason why I am weary about connectome technology is understood in society’s loop-back response to technology.  For example, in the article “How Neuroscience is Changing the Law,” the author writes about how neuroscience technology may one day be able to tell scientists, lawyers and judges what state of mind a person was in when they committed a crime, the accuracy of memories from a witness, and the differences in the brain between those who have the capacity to control their behavior from those who are less able (such as adolescents).  Such neuroscience has great implications in our legal system because it could mean that guilty people, no matter their personal intentions, may be able to go unpunished for their crimes if lawyers can show that the suspects brain showed he / she was not sane or did not have the capacity to recognize that their crime was wrong.  But such technology could also bring about innocent verdicts for innocent people, as lawyers could have a way to prove that some witness testimonies are erroneous.  As always, technology with all its consequences is such a conundrum.

Here’s the link to the original article: http://bigthink.com/ideas/24324?page=all


One response to “To scan or not to scan, that is the question.

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