Thursday, June 29, 2006

Stop The ACLU Blogburst Thursday

"The most likely technology to be used for anti-terrorism purposes is Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI), which can produce live, real-time images of people’s brains as they answer questions, view images, listen to sounds, and respond to other stimuli. Two private companies have announced that they will begin to offer “lie detection” services using fMRI as early as this summer. These companies are marketing their services to federal government agencies, including the Department of Defense, Department of Justice, the National Security Agency and the CIA, and to state and local police departments.

“This technology must not be deployed until it is proven effective — and we are a long way away from that point, according to scientists in the field,” said Steinhardt. “What we don’t want is to open our newspapers and find that another innocent person has been thrown into Guantánamo because interrogators have jumped to conclusions based on a technology no one understands very well.”

Yes. The ACLU doesn't want this new lie-detetector system to be used, and they're right for all the wrong reasons. As usual. The old polygraphs never worked very well, and the system was bastardized from the get-go and used in ways it's inventors never intended. For years now, we've been hearing about new MRI technologies that might, with the strong emphasis on might, determine if an individual was being truthful when presented with a series of questions. But since the designers and manufacturers of such systems didn't exactly have thousands upon thousands of people to test these new gadgets on, they hit upon the perfect solution.

Sell them to the government. The results could never be used in a court of law, but there'd be plenty of test subjects from which to tweak the machine's parameters until one day magicians might not be capable of defeating them at will such as they do with polygraphs. Professional charlatans scoff at the new fMRI's the same way they do when confronted with the old-fashioned lie-dectectors, and are itching to try them out for themselves but of course no one would want to hire such people to de-bug their inventions because of the fear they'd lie to their hearts content and the fMRI's wouldn't be able to tell.

Personally, I do not care what the government uses to interrogate terrorists, and if the likely-bogus fMRI's DO prove to be at least somewhat helpful, then another tool is available to save lives and bring criminals to justice. In all likelihood they will not be capable of determining an outright falsehood, but may be able to at least help in pointing investigations in the right direction.

As long as they're not used in court I don't see the problem, BUT, plenty of people have been indicted on bad information gleaned from polygraph results, and that's I suppose why the ACLU is against the use of this new technology. It IS easy to fool the government...sweet mother of mercy but even the Pentagon has employed mind-readers and dowsers in the hope of some miracle breakthrough in combating an enemy, so sure, fMRI's should be treated with kid gloves and employed to gather more information about how the brain operates with the hope that perhaps some day a genuine lie-detection system can be created.

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