By the end of 2028, will there be a public scandal about someone's brain signals being collected or analyzed without their consent?

For example, someone goes in for a brain scan and isn't told that their brain waves are also going to be used for something else.

Must be a relatively big scandal, noticed by a few thousand people at least. A viral tweet, a major news article, etc.

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predicts YES

@ZviMowshowitz What is your reasoning for NO?

predicts NO

@ooe133 Getting close enough access without consent feels difficult.

predicts NO

@ooe133 bunch of specific new things happening is typically highly overpriced here. I mean it could happen but seems like a clear underdog.

predicts YES

@uair01 That's good wisdom but I don't think it applies here, since it seems to be an attractor state and plenty was revealed/developed over the last 3-4 years that allowed ML and human user/biodata research improve eachother.

Even if we completely ignore the possibilities that technology changes in some way to make this particular form of biodata more exploitable e.g. EEGs are put in phones, orgs like the NSA could hack fMRI machines, sleep studies, or all sorts of brain signal sources and cause a scandal.

Neurotechnology seems like its science fiction, but it is actually happening in real life. Also, knowing that technology is not perfect and can be defective at times, it is scary to think that people would risk their lives by hurting someone's brain if it gets defective in their brain. I do believe that yes there could be a scandal where someone's brain privacy is violated. I mean how many times has Facebook violated their consumer's data privacy? Many times. Knowing that Elon Musk already plan to merge humans with AI, I wouldn't be surprise that if there's another brand, or company doing the same with unethical morals and values. Living in a world of capitalism, sometimes it comes with risk and possibly affecting someone's life.


Seems likely that fMRI data will be useful for foundation models e.g. having dozens or hundreds of people reading passages from a commonly-read book like Harry Potter or the Bible while hooked up to an fMRI machine. It provides directly valuable context for token prediction.

It really just depends on what qualifies as a "public scandal". If we're talking about just one article in one news organization, then it seems fairly likely to me. This happens sometimes when people think their data is going to be used for one thing, but it is actually used for some company or research or something else, and people are frustrated by that.

@AndyMcKenzie Hmm. Any ideas for a less subjective line?

predicts YES

@IsaacKing I would say - at least one article from a relatively major news organization. But I'm biased since that's how I predicted.

Even if it is impossible to predict with certainty, there is some data that supports a more likely chance of the scandal to happen. Here is why:

If one of those brain wave relaxation games gets hacked does this resolve YES?

@MartinRandall I'm not familiar with those games. If it actually collects brain waves and there's a public scandal about that, yes.

Most likely this would happen in a Chinese or North Korean prison or camp, or somewhere like that. Significant chance that we wouldn't get to hear about it at all.

What can happen “at any point before 2028” and what can happen “between 2023 and 2028”?

  • data collection – e.g. the data is from 2023, gets reused in 2024 in a way that is against the rules originally used for informed consent, and people find out

  • analysis and publication – data from 1980, reused in 2024, and people find out

  • media coverage, or whatever – data from 1980, reused in 1985, only gets wide attention in 2024

  • everything goes – data from 1980, reused in 1985, publicized as a scandal in 1990

How large does the scandal have to be? Newspaper articles, specialist press, or would a barely noticed report from an internal investigation suffice?

@yaboi69 Needs to be a scandal large enough to get significant social media or press coverage. Barely noticed report doesn't count.

People need to be angry on the internet. :)

Does this need to specifically be measuring brain waves, or do you mean any brain scan? I'm pretty sure CT scans and MRI scans are much more common than EEG's, but the first two only measure brain morphology and large-scale activation, not "waves".

@jonsimon Ah, good point. What term should I use to mean "any signals coming from a person's brain that can be read from the outside"?

predicts NO

@IsaacKing "brain signals" is more generic than "brain waves"


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