A different kind of reading

Scientists at University College London and UCLA say they can monitor people’s thoughts via scans of their brains. Yes, we’re that close to reading people’s minds.

This is creepy news; not because the prospect of having my mind read creeps me out, but because my old friend Chris and I spent a large portion of our evening last night at a bar (in which it is perpetually Christmas due to their decor) drinking liquor and pondering: If given the option, would we choose to read other people’s minds, or read our own?

Chris thinks people are more transparent to us than they think, and that we are transparent to them, but that most people don’t really know themselves. I agreed with him, but still preferred to read other people’s minds. I remember when I was about my son’s age, I sat in assembly two rows behind a boy I had a huge crush on and wondered what he was thinking. I remember to this day how badly I wanted to read his mind.

Chris threw in another hypothetical: if given the choice between reading his own brain and being taller and richer, which would he choose? He chose to be taller and richer, because he decided if he was “blessed” with these two attributes, he wouldn’t need to read his own mind.

I then made a connection between his desire to be happy, which he thinks being taller and richer would make him, and the desire to read your own mind.

So I decided that if the machine could decipher our own thoughts; not just read them, but decipher them as well, that I’d choose to read my own mind. There’s so much about my thought process I’d love to understand. And although I know insight doesn’t always lead to change, I think it may lead to happiness, however temporary.

Link via Maud

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