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Just Thinking

by Ron Kitson

A line in an old song goes "You can't go to jail for what you're thinking" and that's a good thing. Otherwise, a lot of us couldn't walk through the mall or along a crowded beach without getting arrested. Most boys would get expelled by the eighth grade. Not sure about the girls.

What worries me is how much they've learned about our brains and just how close they might be to actually being able to translate those electric brainwaves into language and perhaps even pictures.

I hope for the sake of humanity they never achieve this. While it would no doubt be a very useful tool in the courtroom, it could also give "invasion of privacy" a whole new meaning.

It could however, put an end to long drawn out court trials. A small panel of experts could analyze the recorded thoughts and pictures from the defendant's mind and the conclusion would be obvious and quick. It could also put an end to innocent people being sent to prison.

While there would have to be very strict laws governing use of the concept, sooner or later the "Brainwave Translator" would be available on the internet. Hypersensitive monitors might pick up your brain's signals through your phone and perhaps even your personal computer.

What if your spouse acquired one and could read your every thought? "How do you like my new hairdo Honey?" Before, you could just say "Oh it looks lovely" and she'd say "Thaaaannnnk you."

Now all of a sudden it's not what you say, it's what you're thinking. Big trouble. Not a good idea. Keeping a marriage together is tough enough as it is.

We have computers that can process information at speeds that boggle the mind. We can enter formulas to a spreadsheet that will do all the math across and down in a flash. We can sort a huge list in the data base under name, age, city, state or any of a number of fields and extract a large group with something in common.

But only a brain can think. We can plan and create. We can read faces and detect the slightest accent and often identify the country of origin.

Computers can process more data in a catwink than we could ever consider without one but they can't dream and they can't fall in love.

Computers may have a better memory but consider how much data dwells in the mind of a mentally sound senior citizen. Just think how much you see and hear in an average day let alone in sixty years or more.

All the unusual sounds, new faces, news articles, songs and all the sights you see as you move from one point to another. All of these are stored in your brain.

You spot someone you haven't seen in a long time and you recognize the face and voice. It may take some time to attach a name but sooner or later it will come to you. It seems as though in your mind, a search engine goes on hunting for the name while consciously you're on another subject.

All at once you are interrupted with "George Plumber." Wow, it's been years.

Is it any wonder it takes a while to sort through the stored information? It's not because we're senior citizens, it's because we know so much.

Can you imagine how much memory a computer would need to hold all the sights and sounds, the movies you've watched and the books you've read in your lifetime?

Computers are here to stay and I wouldn't want to part with mine but I hope they can never read people's minds.

I often thought if dogs ever learned to talk we'd be in a world of trouble. They already know what we're thinking

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