Friday, June 3, 2011

They want to see your naked soul FAST!

Not content to see the naked you, our Government is now going to read your very thoughts and emotions:  without even having to talk to you.
What is this new rocket science technique to catch the bad guys: The Future Attribute Screening Technology (FAST).  It is a crowd scanning machine that tracks eye movement, reads heart beat and breathing rate, uses thermal cameras to track temperature of the skin on the face (presumably to see if it is flushed), tracks facial expressions and body movements, analysis pitch of voice, and other (unknown sensors) (Source: Wikipedia).
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) carried out a FAST trial in a secret area of Northeastern America over the past few months...
Tests so far did not happen at an airport but were at 'a large venue that is a suitable substitute for an operational setting', a DHS spokesman said.
But psychologist Tom Ormerod, of Lancaster University in Britain, says this role-playing may not be representative of real terrorists.  He has also suggested people will react differently when they know they are being tested.‘Fill the place with machines that go ping, and both screeners and passengers start doing things differently,’ he told
The DHS claims accuracy rates of around 70 per cent in lab tests but it is still analyzing results and said more tests will be carried out.
So what it really is is a remote polygraph (a.k.a. lie detector) machine.   And it is all the same issues that polygraphs have:  except that there targeted behavior may be even more open ended then that of a lie detector machine.
Note, they are claiming that it is “70% accurate.  Which is, strangely enough, a common number sited with lie detector tests.  Wikipedia has a very good run down on the problems with the lie detector test:
Polygraphy has little credibility among scientists.  Despite claims of 90-95% validity by polygraph advocates, and 95-100% by businesses providing polygraph services, critics maintain that rather than a "test", the method amounts to an inherently unstandardizable interrogation technique whose accuracy cannot be established. A 1997 survey of 421 psychologists estimated the test's average accuracy at about 61%, a little better than chance. Critics also argue that even given high estimates of the polygraph's accuracy a significant number of subjects (e.g. 10% given a 90% accuracy) will appear to be lying, and would unfairly suffer the consequences of "failing" the polygraph. In the 1998 Supreme Court case, United States v. Scheffer, the majority stated that "There is simply no consensus that polygraph evidence is reliable" and "Unlike other expert witnesses who testify about factual matters outside the jurors' knowledge, such as the analysis of fingerprints, ballistics, or DNA found at a crime scene, a polygraph expert can supply the jury only with another opinion..."
It is also possible to intentionally defeat the tests.  One example here is hardly a complex procedure (Again form Wikipedia):

Asked how he passed the polygraph test, Ames explained that he sought advice from his Soviet handler and received the simple instruction to: "Get a good night's sleep, and rest, and go into the test rested and relaxed. Be nice to the polygraph examiner, develop a rapport, and be cooperative and try to maintain your calm.”

As summed up by one scientist:

"A big problem is that it's not really a test of anything," says psychophysiologist William Iacono of the University of Minnesota. He agrees the polygraph can measure physical reactions, but beyond that, nobody knows how the nervous system acts when it is lying. People who don't believe in the polygraph may be more likely to fail tests, he says. Their disbelief and non-responsiveness may look like deception.  Dan Vergano, Telling the truth about lie detectors, USA TODAY 9 September 2009

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