By Daniel Stark, Marketing –
The Senate Intelligence Committee report stirred national outrage last December with its descriptions of the intense abuse endured by suspected middle eastern terrorists from 2001 to 2006 while under interrogation. The methods were described as not only inhumane, but also ineffective. The extreme stress and lack of sleep associated with interrogation cause memory deprivation. Victims are known to give out false information to prevent further brutal interrogation.
Gathering intelligence information is vital to protecting American lives, preventing heinous crimes, and halting the expansion of extremist terrorist organization such as ISIS. How can we gather truthful intelligence information in a humane manner?
Detecting Lies at the Source
A recent technological solution to better measure deception is the fMRI. The fMRI measures relative changes in blood oxygenation in the brain. When a part of the brain increases activity, it asks for more oxygen-rich blood. Among other emotions, this physical phenomenon correlates strongly with the body’s reaction to deception deception. Consequently the fMRI will “light up” when a subject thinks, speaks or tells a lie.
It’s been a highly effective method, reaching a 90 percent accuracy level. However, scientists generally concur the fMRI’s measures are still too crude to be used for non-research purposes. Furthermore, the fMRI has poor spatial resolution. It makes it difficult to find the neural correlation of deception detection in detail.
Investing in the Brain
President Obama’s 2016 budget called for $70 million additional funding for the BRAIN Initiative, a large-scale effort in developing new brain technologies. The brain initiative guarantees dramatic improvements in neuroimaging resolution. The initiative aims to use multi-sensory collaborations to build better brain mapping tools. The related technology, the Functional Magnetic Particle Imaging (MPI) has a resolution 100 times the fMRI. Researchers stated, “We envision the sensitivity boon will have an instantaneous and revolutionary impact on neuroscience.”
The commission’s initial report to the president addressed a frequent ethical question regarding the technology — the invasion of the innocents’ personal and mental privacy. Contrary to the conspiracy theorists’ claims, deception technology is eons away from mind reading capabilities. However, tools for detecting the general cognitive process’s specific neural signals, especially in regards to deception, are rapidly developing.
In addition, deception detection is undeniably more ethical than water boarding. Its use would prevent further cruel and unusual uses of interrogation while still gathering vital national security related intelligence.