The concept resembles Steven Spielberg’s 2002 sci-fi thriller Minority Report, in which police in 2054 apprehend criminals based on a foreknowledge of crimes yet to be committed.
If successful in the real world, the “biometrics of intent” could, for example, help determine whether the anxious-looking man at the airport is just stressed-out or actually dangerous. Or if someone is just having a bad day at the office or really does intend to kill the boss.
Intent is a tricky psychological state and difficult to differentiate from beliefs, desires and negative but routine emotions.
But intent implies a person has made a preceding decision to take an action, while emotions and beliefs are often static or fleeting.
“Intentions are formed at a later time point compared to beliefs and emotions, so the idea is that some level of mental effort goes into forming intentions,” says Dr. Oshin Vartanian, a scientist with the federal research arm of the defence department.
How to isolate the brain physiology of intentional mental states is part of a continuing project...
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