The Truth Machine

According to a news report on Nature's news page, some proponents of fMRI are now claiming to be able to reliably detect lies by monitoring brain activity. This seems like it might actually be a plausible "lie detector" — unlike the polygraph, which has been proven time and again to be unreliable. I'm not sure what the implications of this are. Certainly one can imagine situations where being able to demonstrate that you are telling the truth about something would be very useful. But suppose it turns out that you don't need to stick someone's head into a giant magnet to do this. Suppose any random social interaction could be measured for degree of truthfulness by either party, using a small potentially concealed device. That could change our world a bit, I'd think.

Anyway, the article made me think of a novel I read a while ago, called The Truth Machine, by James L. Halperin. If I remembered a darn thing about it, I'd give you a mini-review right here, but I don't. So I'm putting it on the "to read" pile. I'll be interested to see how Halperin thinks society would be changed by such technology. (If I recall correctly, the technology was restricted to judicial uses in his novel.)

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