A number of companies such as InnerEye and Emotiv are investigating the possibilities of using brain scanning technology on employees.
By Jonathan Klotz
| Posted 2 hours ago
Every day, bookstores across the country are getting closer to the shelves dystopian sci-fi novels as current events, and now that corporations are actively pursuing brain scanning technology, corporate dystopia is one step closer. The surprisingly booming market already has a few leading companies with promising technology. According to the report by Futurismbig-budget companies are already funding research that will let them know exactly what their employees think at work.
Some of the most promising brain scanning companies include InnerEye in Israel and Emotiv, a San Francisco start-up. InnerEye is developing a headset that will combine human thought processes with machine learning, ideally to combat employee indecision. Emotiv’s work focuses on using a wireless EEG headset to track employee well-being.
Of the two, InnerEye’s research is the most likely to lead to a machine-driven apocalypse. The company’s website says it “connects humans and machines” with the goal of getting the “best of both worlds.” The brain scan can be harmless enough, but with studies already underway to make sure humans aren’t already live in a machine-run simulationit sounds like the plot of a science fiction novel.
In fact, it does, with many authors and futurists having written about the singularity as a point of no return when artificial intelligence overtakes human beings. Stephen Hawking, one of the most brilliant humans who ever lived, feared that the singularity would spell the end of mankind. Today, companies actively funding brain analysis could make the inevitable happen.
Both companies are aware of the potential for misuse of their brain scanning technology. Emotiv says they only partner with partners who want to use technology responsibly. Unfortunately, technicians will remember another company which once had a motto of “Don’t be mean”, and what happens once huge profits start rolling in.
Beyond the potential to cause the Terminator-style apocalypse, brain-scanning technology poses real privacy concerns. An employee’s thoughts are, ideally, kept private. If he wears a headset that monitors brain activity and relays that data to his employer, how much privacy does the employee still have and who owns his actual biological thought process?
Emotiv CEO Tan Le says their technology requires the employee to explicitly authorize a copy of their brain data to be sent to their supervisors. Although it might be described as marketing, brain imaging is a murky ethical area in the field of neuroscience. Renowned author Isaac Asimov has written extensively about the dangers of technological capabilities exceeding human ethics, which is the threshold on which modern humans find themselves today.
The Institute of Neruethics is a global think tank dedicated to solving those tricky questions where technological capability and ethics intersect. The researchers and neurologists who make up the think tank work to ensure that SkyNet does not become real. Brain-scanning technology, which companies that want to become a true Weylund-Yutani are heavily funding, has the potential to be the first step towards a dark fate.