Technologies identifying the neural correlates of behavioural traits ? such as lying, pedophilic arousal and psychopathy ? raise questions about what employers, governments and the courts will do with this neurological information if and when it is available.
Will people come under pressure (whether direct or indirect) to submit to these technologies? There have been debates over the ethics of submitting employees to drug tests, but obligatory neuro-scans could be an even greater invasion of privacy ? for example, they could reveal a person's propensity to act in a certain way, not whether the person does or ever will act in that way.
If a neuro-scan showed a person to be disposed to pedophilic arousal, should authorities be informed? Would governments strive to collect such information? This could infringe on the person's rights ? but it could also prevent sexual abuse.
Will defendants seek to use these technologies to show that they are not the type of people to commit the crimes they stand accused of? Will they admit to the crimes but claim that their neural makeup disposes them to such behaviour and so they are not responsible? Such claims may challenge the very notions of freedom and responsibility that form the foundation of our legal system.
How will the courts react to the prospect of neuro-based lie detection? Even if neuroscientific evidence is deemed reliable, the history of admitting technology into the courtroom (such as polygraph testing and DNA evidence) suggests that there would be concerns over the potential 'dehumanization' of the legal system if neuro-based lie detection is permitted.
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