AI can read your thoughts and tell whether you are guilty of committing a crime

Something on your mind? AI can read your thoughts and tell whether you are guilty of committing a crime

Virginia Tech set up a simulated drug smuggling ring involving 40 volunteers
Each was given a suitcase that might contain drugs to carry across the border
Brain scans were then processed using machine learning to detect data patterns
AI determined who 'knew' they were carrying illicit substances and who didn't

By TIM COLLINS FOR MAILONLINE PUBLISHED: 15:00 EDT, 13 March 2017 | UPDATED: 15:03 EDT, 13 March 2017

Scientists have used a combination of brain scanning and artificial intelligence to read the minds of 'criminals' to determine whether they are guilty of knowingly committing a crime.

This is the first time that neurobiological readings alone have been used to determine guilt, according to the study, and the findings could impact how we judge criminal responsibility in the future.

The researchers say that their brain scans are not currently admissible in court.

They caution that the mental state of a defendant should not be reduced to the classification of brain data.

But it is a big step forward for the emerging field of 'neurolaw', which connects neuroscience to legal rules and standards.

Neuroscientists at Virginia Tech set up a simulated drug smuggling operation involving 40 volunteers.

Each 'runner' was given a probability that a suitcase they were asked to carry across the border would contain drugs.

The team scanned the brains of each subject using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).

They processed the results using AI machine-learning techniques to find patterns in the data.

This allowed the scientists to accurately determine whether the research subjects 'knew' drugs were in the case or whether they were acting recklessly by taking a chance.

The full results of the study have been published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.


A 2013 study found that researchers could predict how likely prisoners were to re-offend through brain scans.

A team of neuroscientists at the Mind Research Network in Albuquerque studied a group of 96 male prisoners shortly before they were due to be released.

They scanned prisoners brains while they were carrying out computer tasks in which subjects had to make quick decisions and inhibit impulsive reactions.

They then followed the subjects for four years.

Among the ex-criminals studied, those showing low activity in an area of the brain associated with decision-making and action are more likely to be arrested again. 


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