back to article That's not long division, Timmy! China school experimented on pupils with mind-reading tech

As if China weren't scary enough already (at least according to US prez Donald Trump), schoolkids in the country have been fitted with head-mounted gizmos to track their attention spans. Citing state-run newspaper Beijing News, The Guardian reports that a trial on primary school-age pupils had to be scrapped after parents …

  1. holmegm

    "Jeez, 1984 wasn't a manual, guys!"

    I don't think the "guys" in China, a communist dictatorship, really care about that kind of snark.

    1. Robert Helpmann??
      Black Helicopters

      And may also dispute the underlying premise that 1984 wasn't about how things should be. To us in the West, it is a cautionary tale as to what can happen if the state has unfettered control but to the current regime in China, it may be regarded as a useful blueprint as to how to deal with dissidents. Perspective is everything!

    2. el kabong

      They care about it but do not take it as snark, they take it literally, something to be followed

      To those guys that rule China 1984 is a set of prescriptions, valuable instructions that when followed carefully will promote the values they trust and believe in.

      1. cream wobbly

        Re: They care about it but do not take it as snark, they take it literally, something to be followed

        Um. You're responding to this snark: "Jeez, 1984 wasn't a manual, guys!"

        and saying they don't take it as snark, but literally.

        Like this: "Oh, it wasn't a manual for guys? We'll use it on gals then!"

        Well done.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      A communist dictatorship is an oxymoron, I'm afraid. You really need to read Marx before sounding off, or you come over like someone who doesn't understand that the valid criticism of communism is that, like Christianity, it posits a future world in which there is no government because everybody is good and kind.

      You can have a socialist dictatorship but not a communist one.

      In any case 1984 is about a right wing takeover under the guise of socialism (as Hitler did) in which the BBC (Ministry of Truth) is the vector of propaganda,and continues the theme of Animal Farm, that all authoritarian governments end up pretty much alike.

      China claims to the run by the Communist Party but it seems to have reverted to being an authoritarian state which has enlisted a subset of the community (Party members) to be the agents of control. In that it resembles the society of 1984 (with the big difference that there is a lot of private enterprise and living standards are rising) but it isn't communist.

      1. CountCadaver

        1984 was based on Orwell's experiences working in the Ministry of Information (propaganda essentially) during WW2, referred to in official documents as Mininform hence the similar titles for the ministries in 1984, also the appearance of ministry of information building forms the basis for the ministry of love.

        1. greatfog
          Big Brother


          "At the outbreak of the Second World War, Orwell's wife Eileen started working in the Censorship Department of the Ministry of Information in central London.... Orwell also submitted his name to the Central Register for war work, but nothing transpired.


          In August 1941, Orwell ... was taken on full-time by the BBC's Eastern Service. ... This was Orwell's first experience of the rigid conformity of life in an office..."

          --- "George Orwell", Wikipedia


      2. Danny Boyd

        What Marxism and Chinese Communist Party have in common? Just curious. Because, you know, I HAVE read Marx's "Das Kapital" (OMG, what a bore!).

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I thought that "1984" was not available in China, because it doesn't exit, Chinese internet says so...

      1. Azerty
        1. Danny 2

          We've always been in a trade war with East Asia.

  2. Chris G

    I think I prefer this to giving kids Ritalin or Aderall and the other amphetamine related drugs that kids in the West get for ADHD etc.

    Though decent teachers and well structured lessons would be better in either hemisphere.

    1. cream wobbly


      Troublesome questions from pupils more intelligent than your below-minimum wage teaching interns who couldn't get a job flipping burgers? Easy! Just provide "evidence" of ADHD and have them evaluated by a friendly druggist, who will dutifully put the American on a lifetime of dependency, and if they try to wean themselves off it, risk being inserted into the -to-prison part of the pipeline?

      Give me the headbands!

    2. veti Silver badge

      "Decent teachers and well structured lessons" are great.

      But not every teacher is that good. Heck, I hear almost half of them are below average! And even the best are often grateful for what help they can get.

    3. greatfog

      Amphetamines are fun! Later for Ritalin... :)

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "I'm sorry to inform you that little Timmy's mind wandered during a lesson about fruit when we were discussing bananas and he's now on a register for life."

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Sounds about right, SNP or Jess Phillips will be pressing for this in every UK School to pre-emptively identify "misogynists" (despite there being no definition of "misogyny") "pornography viewers" "those who dispute our feminist views" "those who disagree with our anti-sex agenda"

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Cybernats (then again none of them have actual jobs, spending their days parroting what every BS nippy orders them to say) and/or feminist downvoters back already I see.......

    2. GrapeBunch

      "I'm sorry to inform you that little Timmy's mind wandered during a lesson about fruit when we were discussing bananas and he's now on a register for life."

      Sounds like what the kindergarten teacher said about your ob'nt s'rv't "I'm sorry, Mrs. Bunch, your child is retarded. He drools on the toys."

      At least, that's been my excuse for six decades. Released from pressure to achieve, I've been free to over-achieve or under-achieve. But why bother? It's too much effort to remember what it is you're supposed not to know. That's a joke, son.

      Mother, seeing that there was no point discussing the matter with Mrs. Argue (deliciously named), made a short statement which is not recorded in History, and swept out of the meeting.

    3. GrapeBunch

      "Onward Johnson soldiers,

      Marching as to whor ..."

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    I am glad that I am planted well into middle age...

    And will be dead before the law enforcement/social engineering/human performance improvement/think of the children pressure to put actual, non-conspiracy-nutjob microchips in everyone's brain finally forces the necessary dystopian legislation through our capitals....

    1. Brian Miller

      Re: I am glad that I am planted well into middle age...

      I am also well planted into middle age, but I am confident that real mind reading, based on ECG wiggles, is going to happen about the same time as Mr. Fusion (operating on table scraps), is available on the market.

      Like, never.

      What we do have now and in the future, is what we've had in the past: some @$$hole getting everybody to march in lock step, and commit atrocities with gleeful abandon.

    2. Allan George Dyer

      Re: I am glad that I am planted well into middle age...

      @Marketing Hack - I'm beginning to think that it is later than you think, and you'll have a chip long before you die.

      @Brian Miller - Why do you need mind reading that works if people believe it does? In 1984 there was the conversation along the lines:

      Winston: "You didn't control my mind"

      "No, YOU didn't control your mind, that's why you're here."

      Just arrest a few people at random, and tell people about the thought-crime you detected.

      1. Another User

        Re: I am glad that I am planted well into middle age...

        Winston was not arrested arbitrarily. That would amount to despotism. He really did not feel love for the ‘big brother’. He commited what we nowadays would call a ‘hate crime’.

        That being said I am also glad that I will not experience this technology during my lifetime.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    All we are doing is

    showing to the West the path to Brighter Future. And I'm sure the West is looking very closely, as they do in other areas :(

    1. JetSetJim

      Re: All we are doing is

      IIRC, there was a Microsoft patent several years ago to track user eye/hand movements and detect unproductive workers. My Google-Fu is weak today, however, and I can't find it. I reckon it had a write-up here, though.

      I reckon MS should sue the Chinese school for patent infringement (unless it was licensed tech!

  6. Tom 35

    Next trial on school kids working at Apple factory then?

  7. Paul Crawford Silver badge

    "Timmy, I can see you're thinking about Katy Perry and not long division. Come down to the front for a thrashing,"

    Timmy, you're thinking of Mistress Whiplash again, come down to the front for no thrashings at all!

  8. David Roberts


    All the snarking aside, perhaps there is potential for a portable brain monitor in researchin the onset and progress of dementia?

    As well as detecting when staff are surfing El Reg instead of doing real work, of course.

    1. Danny 2

      Re: Dementia?

      Locked in Syndrome.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    article. Really.

    The technology is apparently not even close to "mind-reading", so why do you keep implying that this tech might ever be used for any level of "mind-control" beyond that excerted by the current education system, mass media and social media filter bubbles?

    And why do you insinuate that the Chinese might at all be out to "rear the _next_ generation of anti-American stormtroopers"? Do you see any anti-American stormtroopers in China right now, do you really think anyone there is obessing over the US?

    Given the current state of affairs it's much more likely anyway that in the not too distant future students (not just in China) whith any interest in "America" may have to look it up in the history books.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Were you drunk when you wrote this artice Richard?

    Even without atrocities such as "parentals" and barely grammatical sentences starting with "But", this article is probably a new low for The Register.

    1. John McCallum

      Re: Were you drunk when you wrote this artice Richard?

      Was he drunk? He is a jurno it is Friday so I will let you decide>

    2. Bronk's Funeral

      Re: Were you drunk when you wrote this artice Richard?

      There's nothing wrong with starting sentences with conjunctions, fam. A lot of people think Latin construction rules have their place in the English language.

      But they don't.

      1. GrapeBunch

        Re: Were you drunk when you wrote this artice Richard?

        Butt they don't.

        ^ what Bart wanted to write on the blackboard a hundred times.

        But he didn't. He got the cute girl with the barrette in her hair to do it by tweaking a couple of lines of coge.

  11. herman Silver badge

    Oh, good, AirPods are not mentioned. People think that AirPods cannot read brain waves. Apple has a big leg up on the competition... Shhh...

  12. bpfh

    Hummmm... wut ?

    “Currently this is the only school in China that's been using them. The products are more widely used in the US”

    I think this phrase needs some journalistic investigation!

    1. veti Silver badge

      Re: Hummmm... wut ?

      Yup, that's a well-buried lede right there.

    2. John Mangan

      Re: Hummmm... wut ?


      Exactly my reaction. A whole article about one school in China piloting this and one sentence about wider use in the US.

      I'm searching for a word . .. . oh yes, balance.

      1. Danny 2

        Re: Hummmm... wut ?

        It's dubious. It seems to be based upon a 2018 "market research report" by an Indian/American company called Grandview Research.

        This looks like a peer researched science paper, but it obviously isn't and even it doesn't conclude what is claimed:

  13. Boring Bob

    So the teachers stuck some wires to the kids' heads and told them they could see if they were concentrating and those who didn't concentrate would the thrashed. And then they noticed an improvement, what a surprise.

  14. greatfog


    "We don't need no education

    We don't need no thought control

    No dark sarcasm in the classroom

    Teachers leave them kids alone"

    -- Pink Floyd, "Another Brick in the Wall, Pt. 2", SongMeanings


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