Jack Gallant and Shinji Nishimoto, neurologists from UC Berkely, have effectively decoded brain signals into virtual images using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).
After a computer program was given over 200 days' worth of YouTube clips for preliminary analysis, the software was able to recreate continuous (yet blurry) footage of the films that patients were watching based on their brain activity. Gallant suggests this technology "…might be useful for artists or to allow you to recover an eyewitness's memory of a crime."
Russell Foster, a neuroscientist at Oxford, warns "it's absolutely critical for scientists to inform the public about what we are doing so they can… debate about how this knowledge should be used."
U.S. defense contractor Lockheed Martin has already considered integrating this technology into modern surveillance methods, which would certainly open a whole new perspective on privacy and ethics.