Brain Fingerprinting- Science for Security

Dr. Lawrence Farwell, Chairman and Chief Science Officer at Brain Fingerprinting Laboratories based in United States participates in Risk Roundup to discuss “Brain Fingerprinting: Science for Security”.



Security is a moving target. It is an unfortunate reality today that almost all advances in science and technology pose potential ‘dual use’ risks. When risks undermine rewards, better science must provide effective protection against potential security threats. As we see currently, in cyberspace, geospace and space (CGS), we are facing massive security risks. Managing those security risks in CGS is a priority for each nation: its government, industries, `organizations and academia (NGIOA).

Science can come to the rescue and be at the frontline of defense. To be able to do that, we need to unlock the secrets of the human safety, security and sustainability. What better way to do that than scientists from across nations coming together and collaborating and combining their efforts to decode the human brain.

Billions of dollars are being spent across nations to map the human brain. While understanding of brain is fundamental to advance human and computational intelligence, it is also crucial to identify the security challenges we face today, in cyberspace, geospace and space (CGS).

There is a hope that understanding the brain circuits, neural pathway and wiring; mapping the brain, will not only let us understand the command center, for the human nervous system better, but it will also let us into human mind to achieve security.

While there are many obstacles the scientific community must overcome before they can successfully use brain science advances for safety and security of humans in cyberspace, geospace and space; advances have begun to happen.

Brain Computer Interface

Dr. Larry Farwell has conducted pioneering research in the field of brain-computer interfaces. He, along with his colleagues has invented the first EEG-based brain-computer interface (BCI). This interface, BCI, provides a  promising science, a highly growing field of research with great promise and many potential applications. It is because of the revolution in human-computer interaction through EEG based brain-computer interface, which allows us to do many things today, which we couldn’t do so far.

So why and how is brain-computer interface relevant to today’s security challenges? It is because BCI system uses brainwaves, electrical brain activity that each individual has unique, has given us the promise of potential applications that could be used by security community. The brainwaves, brain activity is measured non-invasively from the scalp. This allows communication directly from the human brain to a computer. As a result, this scientific discovery seems to be very promising and has resulted in a new technology referred to as brain fingerprinting.

Why is this important? For years, neuroscientists have been trying to understand brain. The advances in understanding of human brain, will help us solve some complex challenges, that we are facing in a digital global age. While we already have understood many complex challenges, there are still many un-answered questions-

  • How can we use human brain as a biosensor?
  • How can we use human brain for secure identification?
  • How can we advance human intelligence?
  • How can we advance computational intelligence?
  • How can we secure borders?
  • How can we identify terrorists?
  • How can we identify criminals?

It seems we are making progress and are getting closer to finding answers to some of the most challenging questions, we, the humans face today, and in the coming tomorrow.

Warfare: Cyber Warfare to Traditional Warfare
Cyber warfare has become very complex due to connected computers, computer code, internet and artificial intelligence. Irrespective of cyberspace, geospace or space, making the world safe and secure is a very complex challenge now for any and every nation. We are at a point where we need better technology that allows security professionals to do their job better.

As we debate whether we will ever be safe again in cyberspace or geospace; it is the ideas, innovations and technologies like this that gives hope. This technology gives us a promise and potential to do everything from positively identifying terrorists at the borders to identifying terrorists during interrogation. It allows us potential and promise to secure bio- identification to securing our bio-economy.

In our current and emerging wars, we will need to rely more than ever on such technology. We need to evaluate whether-

  • this technology can be effectively used in bio-identification (biometrics)
  • this technology will play a role in cyberwarfare or traditional warfare
  • this technology will be as effective as DNA analysis for criminal justice
  • this technology will be a “information detector test” for the digital global age

It is said that the brain never lies.  If there is information stored in the brain, there is no way it can remain hidden. So, irrespective of what kind of crime gets committed, brain fingerprinting has the ability and power to measure the record of that crime. This is perhaps a game changer for the security industry.

Border Security

Science is becoming a more important part of catching a criminal or terrorist. So, it is important to evaluate whether, with the current security challenges at the airports, this scientific approach and test can make a difference. It is important to evaluate whether it can give us security.

It is important that we explore the possibility and promise of this scientific innovation. It is time we explore advances in science and develop security applications that can effectively give us border security.

Corporate Security

It seems that brainwaves are individualized and unique. In this digital global age, entities across nations: its government, industries, organization and academia (NGIOA) are struggling to manage security hacks or data theft. Many a times it is the employees or contractors who are behind the security breach. Is it possible that based on these scientific advances, entities can screen their employees for security related crimes. It is important to see whether there is a possibility to develop a screening technology that can help prevent security crimes.

Bioidentity and Biometrics

With the advances in the human-machine interfaces, it is now (almost) possible to read minds through techniques such as electroencephalography (EEG). These advances would be very useful as nations look for more than fingerprints or eye retina scan for bio identification.

The security community should be interested in understanding the biometric functionality of the brain fingerprinting for bio-Identification. So, why is this technology promising for biometrics? It is believed that one can capture a person, cut his or her fingers or remove eye for retina scan. However, taking out brain for brain scan is probably not very likely going to happen and would be very difficult. That is where brain fingerprinting provides promise. It is important that security community evaluates whether:

  • there is a potential for brain fingerprinting for security identification
  • brain fingerprinting technique will be better for bio identification than that based on the retina
  • there are any challenges/problems for using brainwaves to identify people
  • there are any efforts going on to improve reliability in brain biometrics

With technological advances emerging, it is likely that security community could be using brainwaves for identity verification in the coming tomorrow.


Emerging bio economy offers tremendous promise for meeting many 21st-century challenges. While synthetic biology brings great promise to solve complex human problems, it also brings complex problems for us to manage.

In addition to numerous scientific and technical challenges, synthetic biology raises many critical security risks –including biosecurity risks in the emerging bio-economy. It is important that we evaluate whether brain fingerprinting research can be effectively used for biosecurity of the emerging bio-economy.


While brain fingerprinting has great potential, there is still a lot that needs to be investigated and evaluated before security community can say with confidence that this technology will help bring security in cyberspace, geospace and space. The challenges it faces are not all related to science. Politics play a significant role. In addition to scientific challenges and political challenges, privacy issues associated with information from the brain needs to be discussed and debated.  It is time we begin to evaluate the risks associated with brain fingerprinting.


If we are interested in making sure that security is maintained in cyberspace, geospace and space, and that the criminals are found proactively; any idea, innovation or technology that can help us make a proactive determination of possibility of crime or help us identify the criminals after the crime happens is welcoming. The security community needs to know about it.

It is my hope that the security community takes a closer look at the brain fingerprinting!

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About the Guest

Dr. Larry Farwell, PhD is the inventor of Brain Fingerprinting, a scientific method to discover the truth, identify criminals and terrorists, and clear the innocent with extremely high accuracy by measuring brainwaves. He invented the first brain-computer interface. He conducted Brain Fingerprinting research at the FBI, the CIA, and the US Navy. He patented Brain Fingerprinting, published it in the leading scientific journals, and applied it to solve major crimes. He has been featured on CBS, ABC, CNN, the New York Times, and news media throughout the world.  TIME Magazine named him to the TIME 100: The Next Wave, the top innovators of this century who may be “the Einstein’s or Picassos of the 21st Century.”

He is a Harvard graduate and former Harvard research associate.  He earned his PhD in biological psychology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1992. He is the Author of How Consciousness Commands Matter: The New Scientific Revolution and the Evidence that Anything Is Possible.

About the Host of Risk Roundup
Jayshree Pandya (née Bhatt) is a visionary leader, who is working passionately with imagination, insight and boldness to achieve “Global Peace through Risk Management”. It is her strong belief that collaboration between and across nations: its government, industries, organizations and academia (NGIOA) will be mutually beneficial to all—for not only in the identification and understanding of critical risks facing one nation, but also for managing the interconnected and interdependent risks facing all nations. She calls on nations to build a shared sense of identity and purpose, for how the NGIOA framework is structured will determine the survival and success of nations in the digital global age. She sees the big picture, thinks strategically and works with the power of intentionality and alignment for a higher purpose—for her eyes are not just on the near at hand but on the future of humanity!
At Risk Group, Jayshree is defining the language of risks and currently developing thought leadership, researching needed practices, tools, framework and systems to manage the “strategic and shared risks” facing nations in a “Global Age”. She believes that cyberspace cannot be secured if NGIOA works in silo within and across its geographical boundaries. As cyber-security requires an integrated NGIOA approach with a common language, she has recently launched “cyber-security risk research center” that will merge the boundaries of “geo-security, cyber-security and space-security”.
Previously, she launched and managed “Risk Management Matters”, an online risk journal and one of the first risk publications, publishing “Industry Risk Reports of Biotechnology, Energy, Healthcare, Nanotechnology, and Natural Disasters” over the course of five years. Jayshree’s inaugural book, “The Global Age: NGIOA @ Risk”, was published by Springer in 2012.

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