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Cognitive Liberty & control technology

Recent advances in nanotechnology, psychopharmacology, brain-wave monitoring and entrainment, brain implants, and subliminal messaging, offer examples of technological developments that will impact, for better and/or for worse, cognitive liberty on both an individual and a larger social scale. Additionally, current methods of technological surveillance have moved beyond monitoring the physical self, toward weaving a more complete web of personal information about both the exteriors and interiors of us all. 

While networked information technologies can mediate social relations in positive ways, the trend towards technological convergence in surveillance applications carries grave consequences for individual liberties. Understandably, the hostile assaults on the World Trade Center and Pentagon raise serious security concerns. Alarmingly, however, an ABC News poll on the day after the attacks (September 12, 2001), found that sixty-six percent of those polled would be willing to give up civil liberties in order to crack down on terrorism.  Also, on the first day of US market trading following the sad human losses of 9/11, stock in face recognition technologies (Viisage Technologies and Visionics to name a few) went up dramatically while other stocks plummeted, indicating the favorable push towards more surveillance, more technologies of control. Just how far will these “security” measures go? 

Eye pupils have long been used by authorities to determine whether a suspect is, or is not, under the influence of a drug, but now the eyes can be used to track and determine identity. If the eyes are the window to the soul, then iris scans could be said to mark the next stage of invasive oppression into our psyche, our spirit. Likewise, the face is a window to one’s inner thoughts and emotions, a window that face recognition technologies threatens to exploit via a technological (inter)face. And “brain fingerprinting,” well, its name says everything. To the extent that a barrage of new technical devices affect thinking and perception, these technologies can, and should, be considered in terms of their promise as well as menace to freedom of thought.

See Also

Brain Fingerprinting
Mental Surveillance  


Technology vs. Torture
By Harvey Rishikof and Michael Schrage, Slate, Aug. 18, 2004
"Psychopharmaceuticals and brain imaging could make prisoner interrogation more humane. Should we use them?"

2004 CCLE Policy Report:

Pharmacotherapy & the Future of the Drug War

Brain Fingerprinting: Databodies to Databrains by Wrye Sententia. Journal of Cognitive Liberties. Vol. 2, No. 3 pages 31-46 

Face It, They’re Watching You by nessie. Journal of Cognitive Liberties. Vol. 2, No. 3 pages 47-54. 

On the use and Proliferation of Advanced Surveillance Systems by Patrick Gunkle  Journal of Cognitive Liberties. Vol. 2, No. 3 pages 55-67. 

Cop-Tech. Journal of Cognitive Liberties. Vol. 2, No. 3 pages 69-82. 

Supreme Court Limits Police Surveillance by Richard Glen Boire. Journal of Cognitive Liberties. Vol. 2, No. 3 pages 93-108

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