News 1 July 2024

Futuristic AI prison that rewires your brain revealed

1 July 2024

A vision of future prisons, where a digitally-rendered concept showed Matrix-style pods in a futuristic facility where inmates wear headsets called Cognify devices, was revealed this week.

These devices stream AI-generated content, implanting artificial memories directly into the prisoners’ brains.

Violent offenders could be forced to experience their crimes from the victims’ perspectives, while drug offenders might endure simulated struggles of addiction and recovery. Emotional states like remorse and regret would be induced by manipulating neurotransmitters and hormones.

Prisoners could choose Cognify as an alternative to traditional incarceration. Treatment could last just minutes, allowing them to reenter society quickly, although they might believe they’ve spent years in a personalised carceral nightmare.

This speculative idea, based on real scientific advances, comes from Berlin-based filmmaker and science communicator Hashem Al-Ghaili. His inspiration came from the flaws in the current criminal justice system, such as false imprisonment and overcrowding. Al-Ghaili argues that Cognify could offer a more effective path to reformation and reintegration.

However, critics are concerned about ethical implications, such as consent, privacy and the authenticity of self. The process involves a high-resolution brain scan to tailor artificial memories, which are then shared with a central computer for research. This raises fears of a potential technocracy.

Al-Ghaili defends the concept, stating that it could reduce costs, shorten prison sentences and lower recidivism rates. He acknowledges the need for ethical standards and oversight but believes technology should be given a chance to improve lives.

Despite Al-Ghaili’s assurances, skepticism remains. Critics liken Cognify to dystopian fiction and historical brainwashing practices. The idea of handing over brain data to authorities is particularly troubling.

Al-Ghaili argues that with proper safeguards, the risks can be managed, but trust in those who control such technology remains a significant concern.

[Image created via Hashem Al-Ghaili]