Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Two Japanese Scientists Invent “Stop Talking” Device

with 4 comments

Two Japanese scientists have invented a device that will make people stop talking in their tracks.  It sounds like science fiction (hence my “SFnal” tag), but it actually is quite a simple thing: human beings cannot handle hearing their voice with a few milliseconds delay while continuing to speak — if this happens, human beings stop talking.  (Psychologists have known this for years.)  Now, these two scientists (Kazutaka Kurihara and Koji Tsukada) have invented a gun that after pointed at a speaker will actually stop someone speaking in his or her tracks without physical discomfort.

Here’s a link:

The ethical implications of this are appalling, though the scientists believe the use of their invention could be benign; they envision the gun being pointed at people who insist on talking on their cell phones in a library (or perhaps in the office) rather than this gun being used, en masse, to stop peaceful protestors from speaking their minds by the powers that be.

Maybe it’s just me, but I believe this technology is incredibly dangerous.  It has the potential to completely silence dissidents, forever; it makes George Orwell’s restrictive society envisioned in his book 1984 look paltry by comparison.  Because what one group of politicians thinks is “right” and “just” speech would be hated by another group of politicians; this has the potential to cause massive unrest that would be totally unable to ever be relieved, unless this technology is somehow countered.

While this invention was probably going to come about sooner or later, I wish for the sake of humanity that it hadn’t happened now; there are protests going on all over the world in favor of peace and financial equality that could end up being prematurely silenced. 

Worse yet, now that this invention has been made public, every military branch in every country in the world has to want this technology, as it would obviously aid them in their work.  And an unscrupulous country’s military getting this technology before everyone else would be a deadly scenario that even Andrew Krepinevich (he of SEVEN DEADLY SCENARIOS fame, a book I reviewed a while back at Shiny Book Review) would have reason to fear.

Now that this technology has been made public, my hope is that other scientists will be working on a way to counter, or at least minimize, the damage this technology could easily cause.  What one technology gives, another technology can take away, and in this case, this is definitely a technology I believe should be countered as soon as possible for everyone’s sake.


Note: the reason I tagged this with “framing narrative” is because the scientists’ reason for narrative framing is simple: they want to make money off this device, so they’re emphasizing the more benign purposes for which such a device could be used.  My view is much more along the “realpolitik” line — what is such a device likely to be used for, and why?

Written by Barb Caffrey

March 7, 2012 at 4:28 pm

4 Responses

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  1. I can see the potential for abuse, but I don’t think it’d work on a large scale. Since it works by projecting your own voice back at you, the more voices you have, the more it’d just sound like crowd noise, which I’m assuming would be much less effective.

    Of course, going after the leader/speaker to such a group could be very effective, especially since it might look that they’ve suddenly gone crazy.


    March 8, 2012 at 10:44 pm

    • That’s probably true, Betsy. They also would have a distortion effect (all those voices), which would further cloud the issue; it definitely seems like something that works better when only _one_ voice is being reflected back.

      Barb Caffrey

      March 9, 2012 at 6:45 pm

  2. Well, in a case where peaceful assembly is present, if it were abused on the crowd, the powers to be in that situation would get sued by the masses, because it infringes on 1st Amendment rights. Sure, it can be abused, but seriously? There are so many people out there that abuse their “right” to cell phones by talking loudly during movies, etc…


    March 12, 2012 at 1:37 am

    • I know, Lika, that there’s definitely been times I’ve wondered why people think that being on a cell phone means they’re immune from criticism. (I guess they cannot hear themselves.) But I can easily see how such technology could be badly abused, at least in a one-on-one situation.

      Barb Caffrey

      March 12, 2012 at 4:04 pm

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