Is The US Government On The Verge Of Reading Minds?

Tyler Durden's picture

Authored by Carey Wedler via,

Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University recently made a scientific breakthrough using machine algorithms to accurately guess what people are thinking. In other words, as the university referred to it, they have “harness[ed] ‘mind reading’ technology to decode complex thoughts.”

The researchers report that they cannow use brain activation patterns to identify complex thoughts, such as, ‘The witness shouted during the trial.’

Though the technology does not identify the actual words, lead researcher Marcel Just, D.O. Hebb University Professor of Psychology in the Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences, has made enough progress that “machine learning algorithms with brain imaging technology” can effectively ‘read minds.’

As the researchers’ press release explains:

The new study demonstrates that the brain’s coding of 240 complex events, sentences like the shouting during the trial scenario uses an alphabet of 42 meaning components, or neurally plausible semantic features, consisting of features, like person, setting, size, social interaction and physical action.

According to the study, published in Human Brain Mapping:

Regression models were trained to determine the mapping between 42 neurally plausible semantic features (NPSFs) and thematic roles of the concepts of a proposition and the fMRI activation patterns of various cortical regions that process different types of information. Given a semantic characterization of the content of a sentence that is new to the model, the model can reliably predict the resulting neural signature, or, given an observed neural signature of a new sentence, the model can predict its semantic content.”

Digital Trends explained for the less scientifically inclined:

Using the smart algorithm, the team could discern what was being thought about at any given time — and even the order of a particular sentence. After training the algorithm on 239 of the 240 sentences and their corresponding brain scans, the researchers were able to predict the final sentence based only on the brain data.

They were able to make predictions with 87% accuracy and, in a reverse exercise, accurately predicted brain activity based on sentence information.

The research has concerning implications for the future of the criminal justice system. In 2013, Marcel Just shared his earlier findings — which, at that time, were less advanced — with Alan Alda of PBS. He said he saw “brain research playing a role in courtrooms because the judicial process often includes not only what an accused person did, but also what he or she was thinking when they did it.”

This is cause for concern as the technology progresses, but even more unsettling is who is funding the research and, evidently, has a stake in it: the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) via the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA), an organization within ODNI.

According to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence’s own website, the government organization’s roots can be traced back to the early years of the CIA:

The idea of a Director of National Intelligence dates to 1955 when a blue-ribbon study commissioned by Congress recommended that the Director of Central Intelligence employ a deputy to run the CIA so that the director could focus on coordinating the overall intelligence effort.

They claim this idea persisted, and following the 2001 terrorist attacks, George W. Bush codified the agency. In 2005, the ODNI was officially launched:

In February 2005, the President nominated John D. Negroponte, ambassador to Iraq, as the first director of national intelligence and U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Michael V. Hayden as the first principal deputy DNI, promoting him to General. On April 21, 2005, in the Oval Office, Amb. Negroponte and Gen. Hayden were sworn in, and the ODNI began operations at 7 a.m. on April 22, 2005.”

John D. Negroponte is a British-born “diplomat” with questionable ties to authoritarian regimes. As Esquire reported after he endorsed Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election:

In the 1980s, he served as the U.S. ambassador to Honduras. In addition to (at best) covering for that country’s murderous autocrats, he also served the Reagan Administration by helping to turn Honduras into a staging area for American-trained death squads in places like El Salvador and Guatemala.

Michael Hayden, who has also served as head of both the NSA and CIA, is known largely for lying to Congress and the American people about the CIA’s use of brutal torture techniques against detainees. He also insisted the NSA’s warrantless wiretapping was legal long before whistleblower Edward Snowden ever exposed the extent of the agency’s surveillance.

These are the founding leaders of the agency currently financing research into reading people’s minds via its research wing, IARPA. They reported directly to President Bush, as the Director of ODNI is a chief adviser to the commander-in-chief.

The current Director of National Intelligence, Daniel Coats, a former Republican senator from Indiana, has a record similar to Hayden when it comes to protecting Americans’ privacy. He was appointed by President Trump, and during his confirmation hearing, he “said there need to be continued conversations about legal authorities to undermine encryption and called reauthorizing an authority that the government uses to spy on Americans’ Internet activities without a warrant his ‘top legislative priority,’” the Electronic Frontier Foundation reported.

He enthusiastically supports Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which has allowed for widespread mass spying on American citizens. “In answers to written questions prior to the hearing as well as during the hearing,” EFF noted, “Coats repeatedly praised the surveillance authority, calling it ‘a critical tool’ and agreed when Sen. John Cornyn quoted FBI Director James Comey’s description of the authority as the ‘crown jewels of the intelligence community.’”

In 2015, while he was a senator, he voted against the USA Freedom Act, which provided minor reforms while keeping bulk data collection intact. He refused to get behind the overwhelmingly popular, bipartisan legislation, which ultimately became law.

Further, while Coats was a senator, he voted in favor of the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act, which is now infamous for codifying the U.S. military’s right to indefinitely detain U.S. citizens without trial. Coats also voted for the 2013 version of the Act, which allowed the same violations.

He also dismissed the Senate’s 2014 CIA torture report, which revealed gruesome torture techniques against detainees, as “partisan.”

Coats’ current deputy director, Dawn Eilenberger, spent 22 years working for the CIA as an attorney, chief legal adviser on the agency’s operations, and finance official.

Though the Trump Administration has indicated its intention to abolish the ODNI, currently, it remains in power under Coats direction. Its research arm, IARPA, touts its pursuit of “high-risk” research and is directly responsible for funding Carnegie Mellon’s mind-reading research. According to a post on its public Medium page, IARPA, founded in 2007,  serves all 17 agencies of the intelligence community and has a singular goal —generating revolutionary capabilities for the U.S. Intelligence Community.”

Anti-Media has reached out to IARPA for comment on how they intend to apply the developing mind-reading technology and will update this article if they respond.

Though Coats is obviously not in charge of funding Just’s research directly, his positions on civil liberties and privacy inevitably color the attitude of the agency he controls. Should the American people trust this agency and its research wing with technology crafted to read their minds?

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Stan522's picture

That won't work shit on my wife... she keeps changing hers.....

Lordflin's picture

So now the government will tell us what we are thinking no matter how much we might deny it...

SMG's picture

The Satanisst will not rest until they have TOTAL control.  They must be removed before they control it all.

Manthong's picture



If they read my mind and discover my lust for the ample, smooth, rolling, buoyant tufts of Janet, what will become of me?  

It will likely be off to the tungsten dungeon and chains for me.

JSBach1's picture

Is it possible to use this on politicians when they are campaigning for office?

Creepy_Azz_Crackaah's picture

HA!  The joke's on you, gubmint.  My tinfoil hat is at the ready!

Croesus's picture

@ DotGov:

Can you guess what I'm thinking right now?

(For the non-psychics, it involves a certain finger).

Alfred's picture

Janet Reno?


His name was Seth Rich

nmewn's picture

I'm thinking anthrax, no, make that tacos ;-)

Manthong's picture


..and weaponized anthrax dust on a taco is bad for the population at large how?

nmewn's picture

Because if not handled expertly by 4yr degreed college graduates at the nearest Taco Bell it can escape into the atmosphere and kill honey bees!

Or...whats left of them by Bayer ;-)

BarkingCat's picture

Just watched a YouTube video yesterday by some Polish scientist who says it is GMO that is responsible. 

He claims that someone investigated a massive death of honey bees traced them down to a corn field.

A local farmer bought seeds from the supply store without knowing that it was Monsanto GMO corn seed.

Supposedly there was a path of dead bees to follow from the hive to the field, with most of them dying right next to the corn field.


The Wizard's picture

The brain and the mind are two completely different and separate entities, though connected. It is the mind that controls what the brain is to process. In order to see into someone's mind, the brain would have to be penetrated.

“My brain is only a receiver, in the Universe there is a core from which we obtain knowledge, strength and inspiration. I have not penetrated into the secrets of this core, but I know that it exists.” Nikola Tesla
runnymede's picture

reading pre-thoughts---just around the corner

AtATrESICI's picture

FUCK THE .GOV. Do you think that they got the message? No need to read my mind reading my internet and phone traffic will clue them in...

Cardinal Fang's picture

Well actually, your internet and phone traffic are part of the algorithm.

See how that works? They are going to develop an AI system that will use your actions and (the key word) is regressively analyze your thoughts.

It appears that they are trying to build a system where the quality control of the output is a comparison between what the system thought you said or did or thought and what your actions were. They will then make predictions from that.

Should be a hoot when they implement this.

The Gestapo never even thought about shit like this.

Normalcy Bias's picture

Correct. The machines won't understand women either.

Pffftt! It's NOT what I was thinking that matters, but what I MEANT!

Mustafa Kemal's picture

And if they want to know how I think, they just need to come here.

JuliaS's picture

"Reaction time is a factor in this so please pay attention. Answer as quickly as you can. Describe in single words, only the good things that come into your mind about your mother."

Stan522's picture

Lighten up moron... I was simply putting some humor to this.....

silverer's picture

Time to learn to speak the Navajo language.

NoDebt's picture

Hey, guess what I'm thinking right now.


Stan522's picture

You can say that again............

runnymede's picture

Something that has to do with a nail gun and Maxine Waters

NoDebt's picture

Dup.  Sorry.  Only hit save once.  Not sure how that happened.


JSBach1's picture

The other one was because they read your mind and beat you to it.

NoDebt's picture

That's.... probably right, actually.


Juggernaut x2's picture

Alan Parsons predicted this 35 years ago

NoDebt's picture

I am the eye in the sky, looking at you

I can read your mind

I am the maker of rules, dealing with fools

I could cheat you blind


That one's going on this evening's play list.  Thanks for the reminder.


wisehiney's picture

Cool dudes, here it comes.

BeanusCountus's picture

Nothing to get upset about. All based on one human's guess at an algo, which may be right or wrong. On a positive note, the totally insane now have a "leg up" on the intelligence community.

Umh's picture

The government will misinterpret anything they get anyway.

BeanusCountus's picture

Deleted, already covered by others.

JuliaS's picture

Police will use such devices to fabricate probable cause.

Sonny Brakes's picture

They'll probably project thoughts on those they deem subversives. Better lawyer up.

wet_nurse's picture

Hook it up to all of Washington DC. Patriot act 2

nonclaim's picture

Why read minds, they could just ask: fuck you.

Yen Cross's picture

 read this ___i_

 I call it the "love button"...

UmbilicalMosqueSweeper's picture

"Gotta spot that gets me hot, and you ain't been to it."

aloha_snakbar's picture

Bullshit...comparing a computer algorithm to a human mind, which is one of the most advanced computers ever, is like comparing an abacus to a Cray computer...they might be able to *occasionally* make statistically significant guesses, but read a human mind? Unpossible...

booboo's picture

It won't matter, once they convince Idiot Nation that they can they will just make shit up, and haul you away.


skinwalker's picture


They'll hook you up to the machine, then say you were thinking X and use that as the basis of their judgement.

Never mind that X is total bullshit made up on the spot. Dumbass judges and jurors will accept the machine as gospel.

Kind of like how the oracle is irrelevant, and all the power rests with the person who interprets the oracle.

OverTheHedge's picture

Any normal person will reject this being used in any legal or investigative fashion, so it will be implemented as soon as possible.

More exciting is the commercial aspects of this: thought-controlled internet of everything, here we come. Also, it's an advertisers dream, and will give immediate feedback on products, services, kitten videos etc. You are going to have to learn to police your own thoughts, to avoid the thought police.

Feelings and emotions will be next - recording, transmitting etc. Wasn't there a not very good film about this? Ah, yes: Strange Days.

runnymede's picture

Unpossible will always get up arrow ^

DC Beastie Boy's picture



wisebastard's picture

it does not matter it will be the government so it will be created by idiots. I mean it. I know a guy who urinated on Barack Obama as an initiation from secret societies so Obama could become POTUS and the guy who urinated on Obama is a complete idiot....