CAMLAW: Complementary and Alternative Medicine Law Blog

Department of Pre-Crime Might Be Established After All

Harking to the Department of Pre-Crime in 'Minority Report,' scientists now say they can predict intention with some comfort.

It's a bit like the claims of energy healers to track and manifest conscious intention. In energy healing, intention matters. The problem has always been science's inability to measure anything as metaphysical as "intention." Consciousness as the unverifiable "ghost in the machine."

Now, Wired reports that 'brain scans' may help discover what's on someone's mind.

'Researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, along with scientists from London and Tokyo, asked subjects to secretly decide in advance whether to add or subtract two numbers they would later be shown. Using computer algorithms and functional magnetic resonance imaging, or fMRI, the scientists were able to determine with 70 percent accuracy what the participants' intentions were, even before they were shown the numbers.

The study used "multivariate pattern recognition" to identify oxygen flow in the brain that occurs in association with specific thoughts. The researchers trained a computer to recognize these flow patterns and to extrapolate from what it had learned to accurately read intentions.

The finding raises issues about the application of such tools for screening suspected terrorists -- as well as for predicting future dangerousness more generally.'

However, the article cautions that the science is in too early a stage to make any reliable predictions. Good thing, given the excesses dramatized in the Tom Cruise film.

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Law Offices of Michael H. Cohen offers general corporate legal services, litigation consultation, and expertise in health law with a unique focus on alternative, complementary, and integrative medical therapies.

Michael H. Cohen is Principal in Law Offices of Michael H. Cohen and also President of the Institute for Integrative and Energy Medicine (also known as the Institute for Health, Ethics, Law, Policy & Society), a forum for exploration of legal, regulatory, ethical, and health policy issues involved in the judicious integration of complementary and alternative medical therapies (such as acupuncture and traditional oriental medicine, chiropractic, massage therapy, herbal medicine) and conventional clinical care. The most recent published book by Michael H. Cohen on health care law, regulation, ethics and policy pertaining to complementary, alternative and integrative medicine and related fields is Healing at the Borderland of Medicine and Religion. This is the fourth book in a series, following Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Legal Boundaries and Regulatory Perspectives (1998), Beyond Complementary Medicine: Legal and Ethical Perspectives on Health Care and Human Evolution (2000), and Future Medicine: Ethical Dilemmas, Regulatory Challenges, and Therapeutic Pathways to Health Care and Healing in Human Transformation (2003).

Health care and corporate lawyer Michael H. Cohen has also been admitted to the Bar of England and Wales as a Solicitor (non-practicing), adding to Bar membership in four U.S. states.
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