Well, this is cool, or terrifying, depending on whether you sometimes have evil thoughts. The Guardian (UK) reports that:
A team of world-leading neuroscientists has developed a powerful technique that allows them to look deep inside a person’s brain and read their intentions before they act.
The research breaks controversial new ground in scientists’ ability to probe people’s minds and eavesdrop on their thoughts, and raises serious ethical issues over how brain-reading technology may be used in the future.
The team used high-resolution brain scans to identify patterns of activity before translating them into meaningful thoughts, revealing what a person planned to do in the near future. It is the first time scientists have succeeded in reading intentions in this way.
This sounds somewhat more advanced that the actual research results, which involved addition:
During the study, the researchers asked volunteers to decide whether to add or subtract two numbers they were later shown on a screen.
Before the numbers flashed up, they were given a brain scan using a technique called functional magnetic imaging resonance. The researchers then used a software that had been designed to spot subtle differences in brain activity to predict the person’s intentions with 70% accuracy.
The study revealed signatures of activity in a marble-sized part of the brain called the medial prefrontal cortex that changed when a person intended to add the numbers or subtract them.
Well, it isn’t the same as intent to commit a crime, but a slippery slope beckons.