“Before I could reply, Gowing said there was nothing so completely uninteresting as other people’s dreams.”
Are other people’s dreams really boring? Scientists in Japan don’t think so. Using an MRI scanner, they claim to be able to ‘read’ dreams.
Practical questions aside (what kind of person could fall asleep inside an MRI scanner: a claustrophobic iron tube that makes a noise like a giant pneumatic drill?) there is something disturbing about the idea of this invasion of our sleeping selves.
As with telepathy – and the possibility of a ‘brain-to-brain interface’ that could allow someone to “experience directly the imagination, dreams or emotions of another” – a dream-reading machine – is not an immediate prospect. The private space within our skulls will remain private for now.
A more immediate concern for privacy is the amount of personal information we push into the digital environment when we use social media, shop online, blog or just visit a web site. Almost everything we do today leaves a digital footprint: a trail of clues about our preferences, behaviour and aspirations.
Thanks to our digital footprints, scientists won’t need dream-readers or brain-to-brain interfaces to see inside our heads. We’ve already put the information out there.
* gratuitous cat photo