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HOWEVER much technology knows about you – and you would be surprised how much it does (see “I exposed how firms and politicians can manipulate us online”) – there is one firewall that it can’t penetrate: your skull. Unless you choose to share your thoughts, they remain private.

But for how much longer? Increasingly, a combination of brain scanning and artificial intelligence is opening the black box, gathering signals from deep inside the mind and reverse-engineering them to recreate thoughts. For now, the technology is limited to vision – working out what somebody is looking at from their brain activity (see “Mind-reading AI uses brain scans to guess what you’re looking at”) – but in principle there appears no reason why the entire contents of our minds couldn’t be revealed.

This line of research inevitably raises fears about the ultimate invasion of privacy: mind reading. It is not difficult to imagine some sort of device that can simply be pointed at somebody’s head to extract their thoughts.

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New Scientist

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