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Hands Off My Brain Data!

What do you think about earphone-style electroencephalography sensors that would allow your boss to monitor your brainwaves and collect your brain data while you are at work?

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Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like bananas. When an artificial intelligence (AI) laughs at this, we will know we have problems and the end is nigh. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; when I was a kid, it seemed like older people had only three primary topics of conversation available to them: their health (including medications they were taking, operations they had undergone, and the comparing of interesting surgical scars), the weather (as being experienced currently, as compared to the previous 50 years, and as the basis for speculation as to the rest of the week, month, year, and decade), and time (how it seemed to pass faster the older you got). The sad thing is that I now find myself commenting on the passage of time all of the time. This reminds me of the old programming joke: “In order to understand recursion, you must first understand recursion” (I didn’t say it was a good joke). Do you remember the The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by the late, great Douglas Adams — the part close to the beginning where Ford Prefect tells our hero Arthur Dent: “Time is an illusion. Lunchtime doubly so”? Well, it seems like only yesterday I was writing about BrAiN ImPlAnTs aNd tItLe cApIlIzAtIoN, but this was actually quite some time ago now, unless time as a fundamental property simply does not exist in which case all bets are off (see also Is Time Truly an Illusion?). Earlier today (assuming the terms “earlier” and “today” have any meaning), my chum Jay Dowling sent me a link to this article about earphone-style electroencephalography sensors that would allow your boss to monitor your brainwaves and collect your brain data while you are at work; also, presumably, to allow your partner to monitor them while you are at home (“Honestly, there’s nothing I want to do more than watch yet another tortuous remake of Pride and Prejudice”). Just a few moments ago as I pen these words, I saw Amelia Dalton’s recent Fish Fry on EE Journal that discussed, among other things, cyborg bomb-sniffing locusts. It turns out that by monitoring the locusts’ brain waves, we can identify exactly what they are smelling. Something else that just appeared on the scene in more ways than one is Amazon’s new flying home security drone. When one of the home’s security sensors detects something awry, the drone takes off to check things out while streaming live video of al it sees.  
And, just yesterday as I pen these words, I was chatting with the CSO (science) and CTO (technology) of a company that is forming sensors comprising a mix of biological elements and graphene transistors. Things are moving very quickly these days, nostalgia isn’t what it used to be, and the future is closer than you think. Speaking of which, now I’m thinking of Max Headroom (no relation) being chased by security drones piloted by cyborg locusts. Time truly is a slippery little scamp, because I’ve already forgotten all about Max Headroom (still no relation) and cyborg locusts. Now I’m thinking that cold beer would be a remarkably good idea. I must be right, because I just watched the second hand on my wristwatch complete a full circuit and I still think that a cold beer is the order of the day. And so, I must away…

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Charles Pfeil

In the age of Cancel Culture, the last thing we need is for our brainwaves to be made available for analysis.

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