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Biometric Terrorist Detector

samzenpus posted more than 7 years ago | from the tell-the-machine-everything-you-know dept.

322

neutralino writes "The Wall Street Journal has this story about a biometric airport security system which uses biometric responses — blood pressure, pulse and sweat levels — to series of questions ("Are you smuggling drugs?") to identify passengers with "hostile intent." According to the article, "In the latest Israeli trial, the system caught 85% of the role-acting terrorists, meaning that 15% got through, and incorrectly identified 8% of innocent travelers as potential threats, according to corporate marketing materials.""

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322 comments

8% false positives? Absolutely useless. (5, Insightful)

XorNand (517466) | more than 7 years ago | (#15903210)

The busiest airports [wikipedia.org] in the world handle 30-80 million passengers per year. With an 8% false positive rate, a 30M/year airport would flag almost 8,800 innocent people per day, per airport as a terrorist. How can this be considered even remotely feasible? Even if getting flagged just means that you have to undergo a more rigorous personal inspection it's going to piss off a lot of passengers. Plus the TSA people aren't going to put much creedance into something that dramatically increases their daily workload, but might catch one terrorist every decade. Just another misuse of expensive technology.

Re:8% false positives? Absolutely useless. (5, Insightful)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 7 years ago | (#15903239)

Not to mention the difference between a "role-acting" terrorist and a real terrorist.

Re:8% false positives? Absolutely useless. (4, Interesting)

recursiv (324497) | more than 7 years ago | (#15903314)

Hahah, yeah, what the fuck is this? What if the terrorists were "role-acting" as normal passengers? Nice system.

Re:8% false positives? Absolutely useless. (1)

Zenaku (821866) | more than 7 years ago | (#15903496)

Well, it is a normal, harmless person, pretending to be someone who's only pretending to be a normal harmless person. Now, it seems to me the only way you could "act" like someone who is "acting" like he has nothing to hide, would be to act like you do have something to hide. I just can't trust these reported success/failure rates at all. The experiment to test the system is fundamentally flawed. Must have been thought up by people who were role-acting that they were statisticians.

Oh, and I'm not an actor, but I play one on TV. ;)

Re:8% false positives? Absolutely useless. (1)

KokorHekkus (986906) | more than 7 years ago | (#15903444)

Or if they take beta blockers which dampens the physical symptoms of panic/anxiety (heartrate, bloodpressure, sweating etc).

Re:8% false positives? Absolutely useless. (1)

dnoyeb (547705) | more than 7 years ago | (#15903518)

Right there the system has illustrated that it can be fooled. Companies try to get the US government to make us taxpayers into suckers everyday.

Slashvertisement for investment (1, Troll)

Futurepower(R) (558542) | more than 7 years ago | (#15903641)

"Companies try to get the US government to make us taxpayers into suckers everyday."

And, it's another Slashvertisement for investment in an Israeli company.

Re:8% false positives? Absolutely useless. (1)

lixee (863589) | more than 7 years ago | (#15903247)

Plus the 8% false positive rate is what they're communicating. I guess they must have tweaked the numbers a bit.

Re:8% false positives? Absolutely useless. (1)

BoomerSooner (308737) | more than 7 years ago | (#15903253)

Holy shit batman.... LOGIC!?!?!? You should run for office :)

You wouldn't win, but you should run regardless. Maybe we'll get lucky.

Voight-Kampff 8% false positives? (4, Funny)

Gary W. Longsine (124661) | more than 7 years ago | (#15903306)

it's going to piss off a lot of passengers
It will do more than that if the result of failing this Voight-Kampff test [wikipedia.org] is a hole the size of a dinner plate in the passenger's chest.

Fair point but... (4, Interesting)

SPYvSPY (166790) | more than 7 years ago | (#15903330)

...this tool in the right hands is effective. Israeli airlines and airports have the reputation for being the safest in the world. A big part of the reason for that is that they focus on passengers' behavior rather than what they put into their bags. Granted, the volume of air travel to and from Israel is probably a tiny fraction of what most major airports see. The questions are: (a) whether the Israelis' success is scalable to other airports, and (b) whether this device is a valuable supplement to a well-trained security team--one that can understand the machine's limitations and leverage its strengths in assessing the stream of passengers.

Re:Fair point but... (1)

Raistlin77 (754120) | more than 7 years ago | (#15903359)

Unfortunately, nobody seems to have the "right hands". Maybe they should supply correctly configured prostetic hands with this...

Re:Fair point but... (5, Insightful)

0123456 (636235) | more than 7 years ago | (#15903422)

Have you ever travelled through an Israeli airport? The mere idea that we could adopt similar policies in an airport as busy as, say, Heathrow is mind-bogglingly stupid.

They're also useless: every time I've been to Israel I've had to suffer third-degree searching on the way in and out. Oddly enough, I'm not a terrorist, and I also have no desire to fly to or from Israel again: they don't care, because they put security above happy travellers, but the rest of the world has different priorities.

Re:Fair point but... (2, Insightful)

Sponge Bath (413667) | more than 7 years ago | (#15903621)

...they put security above happy travellers, but the rest of the world has different priorities.

True, they put profit above happy travellers.

Re:Fair point but... (1)

MECC (8478) | more than 7 years ago | (#15903525)

Actually, focusing on passenger bahaviour and using some version of what amounts to a 'lie detector' are two mutually exclusive things. In fact, with a device like this installed, I'd say that airports would be more likely to ignore passenger behaviour, since the 'lie detector' would be checking for them.

Nothing like wild goose chases to make terrorists' jobs easier. This sounds like a TSA shoe-in.

Re:8% false positives? Absolutely useless. (2, Insightful)

operagost (62405) | more than 7 years ago | (#15903362)

Here's a question: how many people are being pulled aside for random screenings right now?

Re:8% false positives? Absolutely useless. (2, Insightful)

OriginalArlen (726444) | more than 7 years ago | (#15903378)

Such systems almost invariably fall over due to the FP/FN rates and the "low rate fallacy". Here's the ever-reliable Schneier on the subject. [schneier.com] Profound, simple, enables everyone to immediately debunk much of the security theatre we are surrounded by these days. (warning, don't try arguing it out with a cop or other jumped-up little hitler type as you are likely to find yourself banged up for being a smart-arse, barrack-room lawyer or similar troublemaker.)

Re:8% false positives? Absolutely useless. (2, Funny)

andrewman327 (635952) | more than 7 years ago | (#15903406)

Agreed. The sample contained far more criminals per capita than any airport will (hopefully) ever have. A skilled agent should be able to spot the nieve college student who was talked into smuggling drugs home from spring break. Terrorists often disgustingly believe that what they are doing is right therefore it may be harder to spot them. I think that human vigilence is the answer. TSA screeners may not be the greatest law enforcement officials ever known, but patrolling police can often spot trouble.


In the long run, I would not be surprised if this technology showed up in interogation rooms. Many people would confess if shown a digital readout from an advanced machine that said they were not telling the truth, regardless of the accuracy of said machine. Criminals have been known to fall for less [dumb.com] :
"Radnor, Pennsylvania: Police interrogated a suspect by placing a metal colander on his head and connecting it with wires to a photocopy machine. The message 'He's lying' was placed in the copier, and police pressed the copy button each time they thought the suspect wasn't telling the truth. Believing the 'lie detector' was working, the suspect confessed."

It's absolutely not useless! (2, Insightful)

MikeRT (947531) | more than 7 years ago | (#15903408)

That number is just small enough to seem effective to the bulk of opinionated political junkies who know next to nothing about computers, statistics, etc., but large enough to allow the TSA to catch no terrorists while claiming credit for being busy. It's a bureaucratic win-win. Little hard and scary work, lots of busy work and everyone is happy until it doesn't do its job when it counts, a terrorist gets through and people die.

Then, TSA gets more power.

The only time that failure is bad for such an agency is when it makes Congress seriously ask "so who is going to get the first pink slips?"

Force it to be useless and it will be. (1, Interesting)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 7 years ago | (#15903424)

Any technology is going to be useless in preventing terroristic attacks if you force conditions upon it that only make it harder to succeed.

We know a great deal about the people who have or tried to attack airliners. We have age ranges, ethnic backgrounds, countries of origin, and other factors. Unfortunately its not nice to use these in the process.

Apply this technology and similar to people who fit the above categories and your false alert numbers are more manageable. It will never happen.

Apparently 3000+ lives is not enough to pay versus being politically correct.

Re:Force it to be useless and it will be. (3, Insightful)

SvetBeard (922070) | more than 7 years ago | (#15903709)

We know a great deal about the people who have or tried to attack airliners. We have age ranges, ethnic backgrounds, countries of origin, and other factors. Unfortunately its not nice to use these in the process.
I'm blowing my chance to mod here, but I feel that I must answer.

The problem with profiling is not just that it's wrong or not "PC," but that it doesn't work. Remember, the terrorists aren't dummies. If the authorities start pulling every Arab off of every plane, the terrorists groups will soon get wise to that. They will search their ranks for the least Arab looking members or recruit radicalized westerners. Narrowing the focus of your search just gives your target a chance to adapt.

Re:8% false positives? Absolutely useless. (1)

tobiasly (524456) | more than 7 years ago | (#15903449)

Plus the TSA people aren't going to put much creedance into something that dramatically increases their daily workload, but might catch one terrorist every decade.

The TSA already has various means of determining which passengers will be more thoroughly searched. This is simply another tool to be used in those heuristics. TFA says that this technology will enhance, not replace, existing technology.

Airport security already has a seemingly insurmountable task of finding the handful of bad guys out of those millions who travel. Every tool they can add to their arsenal to help in this job is a welcome one. But it's not like a false positive on one test automatically means you get a cavity search. So your theory that their workload will "dramatically increase" simply isn't correct.

And if it "only" catches one terrorist per decade, that's still a potential of hundreds or even thousands of lives saved, not to mention millions of dollars in lost revenue from people who cancel travel plans after planes blow up in the air because a terrorist figured out an ingenious new way to smuggle explosives on board.

Re:8% false positives? Absolutely useless. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15903520)

While 8% false positives certainly sounds horrible, one has to consider that the Israeli company who designed this has additional information which makes that number, or, at least, their projected 4% false positive figure, commercially viable. Such factors could include the average cost per individual in terms of person hours and to a much smaller degree, cost of the units. This system could simply be used to designate individuals to receive the level of scrutiny that ALL El Al passengers receive prior to boarding whereas the volume and cost of training required to produce such a workforce of individuals in the US would otherwise be prohibitive

Re:8% false positives? Absolutely useless. (1)

mounthood (993037) | more than 7 years ago | (#15903615)

With an 8% false positive rate, a 30M/year airport would flag almost 8,800 innocent people per day, per airport as a terrorist.
(30 000 000 / 365) * (8%) = 6 575.34247
http://www.google.com/search?q=30000000/365*8%25 [google.com]

Re:8% false positives? Absolutely useless. (1)

wwphx (225607) | more than 7 years ago | (#15903635)

I love it. When I started at the police department (database geek and proud of it!), I was polygraphed. The session was started with an interview. The purpose of the interview was so that when I was connected to the machine, every question that I was asked would result in a "No" response. One question was: "We know everyone has stolen from work. It might just be a pen, or a pad of paper, or a pad of post it notes. You die and go to heaven, but before you get in, you have to write a check for everything you've ever taken from all of your employers. How much would that check be for?" I told him "Let's call it $50."

In the polygraph exam, the question asked is: "Aside from what we discussed, have you ever stolen anything from your employers?" The reply is no, because we've already discussed that over the last 13 years or so, I've stolen maybe $50 worth of supplies.

With this system, there's no baseline. So obviously what we need is each airport should have 5,000 trained polygraph examiners and you need to arrive at the airport five hours ahead of your flight. It'll be great for the unemployment situation!

Lear Jets (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15903664)

The busiest airports [wikipedia.org] in the world handle 30-80 million passengers per year. With an 8% false positive rate, a 30M/year airport would flag almost 8,800 innocent people per day, per airport as a terrorist. How can this be considered even remotely feasible?

I don't think that will be a problem. Judging from past experience each person flagged by the system will be detained and subjected to a long and humiliating process that includes cavity searches, hours and possibly days of interrogations and a thorough background check. Any Muslims (including suspected ones) will be packed into a Lear Jet and flown to one of a number of middle eastern countries where the US Govt. has outsourced its 'efficient interrogations' program. The CIA's torturers^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H security contractors on site will soon weed out the false from the true positives.

Re:8% false positives? Absolutely useless. (1)

Tweekster (949766) | more than 7 years ago | (#15903719)

Um it would flag those people for an extra check. Sure as hell beats the system of "we have to check everyone"

Who said anything about flagging them AS terrorists, rather it is a system to flag people to further check while letting everyone else go through.

Certainly makes sense to me, but you have to ignore the slashdot headline, but that is a requirement of this site anyways.

Re:8% false positives? Absolutely useless. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15903743)

Oh, wait! If the marketing materials claims 8% false positives, it must be much, much more!!!

Great technology! (5, Funny)

Kagura (843695) | more than 7 years ago | (#15903229)

I think this is what we've been waiting for. Some method to intuitively deduce whether a person is telling a fib! The only thing this device is really missing is a name. How about ... the Polygraph? Wow, kind of catchy!

Ob Simpsons (1)

TigerPaw (986058) | more than 7 years ago | (#15903521)

Eddie: did you have any grudge against Montgomery Burns?
Moe:No
Lie detector: *BZZZZT*"
Moe:Alright maybe I did but I didn't shoot him - I swear
Lie detector: *BEEP*

Eddie: Checks out. Ok sir you are free to go.
Moe:Good, coz I got a hot date tonight. *BZZZT*

Moe: A date *BZZZT*.
Moe: Dinner with friend *BZZZT*
Moe: Dinner alone *BZZZT*

Moe: Watching tv alone *BZZZT*
Moe: Alright! Im gonna sit down and ogle the ladies in there Victoria Secret catalog *BZZZT*
Moe: ... Sears catalog *BEEP*
Moe: Now will you unhook me please, I dont deserve this kind of shabby treatment *BZZZT*

Re:Ob Simpsons (1)

The_REAL_DZA (731082) | more than 7 years ago | (#15903619)

That was good, but I preferred the scene from season 8's "The Springfield Files" where agent Scully is giving Homer a polygraph test, explains how it works and then asks him "do you understand?" He replies "Yes", and the polygraph explodes.

Ugh (4, Insightful)

hsmith (818216) | more than 7 years ago | (#15903232)

Sorry, but my blood pressure would rise if some cop comes up to me and starts interrogating me in the middle of an airport. most people almost have a heart attack when they are driving and you see the blue and red lights roll up behind you. I don't see how this is the slightest bit effective.

It measures CHANGES in stress... (1)

RingDev (879105) | more than 7 years ago | (#15903483)

These devices don't measure against a set point, the measure against beleived truths. So if your heart is beating hard when the cop asks you your name and where you are traveling, but then beats even harder when they ask you if you are running drugs, or planning on attacking the plan, it triggers.

-Rick

Re:Ugh (1)

kilodelta (843627) | more than 7 years ago | (#15903731)

You're right. The police have become the bad guys now so we're naturally suspicious of them.

But heres the thing, this is nothing more than a polygraph. And they've already been solidly debunked as junk science if anything.

Replicant detector? (5, Insightful)

JonTurner (178845) | more than 7 years ago | (#15903238)

Remind anyone else of: "You're in the desert. You see a turtle on its back and it can't flip over. Unless it gets on its feet it will die. But you won't help it. You're going to let it die. Why is that?" (paraphrased.)

Re:Replicant detector? (1)

dilvish_the_damned (167205) | more than 7 years ago | (#15903327)

"Becouse I am also a turtle".

When I heard it, I thought if I ever had a chance to use it in general disussion I would. And what do you know...

Re:Replicant detector? (4, Funny)

neonprimetime (528653) | more than 7 years ago | (#15903368)

But is this mysterious 2nd turtle flipped over too? If so, then I have to ask the question: Why are there 2 turtles, out in the middle of the nowhere desert flipped over on their backs? Besides Mario, I see no other logical explanation?

Re:Replicant detector? (1)

Zarniwoot (979457) | more than 7 years ago | (#15903414)

Holden: You're in a desert, walking along in the sand when all of a sudden you look down...
Leon: What one?
Holden: What?
Leon: What desert?
Holden: It doesn't make any difference what desert, it's completely hypothetical.
Leon: But, how come I'd be there?
Holden: Maybe you're fed up. Maybe you want to be by yourself. Who knows? You look down and see a tortoise, Leon.
It's crawling toward you...
Leon: Tortoise? What's that?
Holden: You know what a turtle is?
Leon: Of course!
Holden: Same thing.
Leon: I've never seen a turtle. (pause) But I understand what you mean.
Holden: You reach down and you flip the tortoise over on its back, Leon.
Leon: Do you make up these questions, Mr. Holden? Or do they write 'em down for you?
Holden: The tortoise lays on its back, its belly baking in the hot sun, beating its legs trying to turn itself over but it can't. Not without your help. But you're not helping.
Leon: WHAT DO YOU MEAN, I'M NOT HELPING?
Holden: I mean you're not helping! Why is that, Leon?
[Leon has become visibly shaken]
Holden: They're just questions, Leon. In answer to your query they're written down for me. It's a test, designed to provoke an emotional response. (pause) Shall we continue?

Re:Replicant detector? (5, Funny)

JonTurner (178845) | more than 7 years ago | (#15903421)

Here's a good link the rest of the Replicant questions... asked of San Francisco Mayoral candidates.
http://www.thewavemag.com/printarticle.php?article id=24031 [thewavemag.com]

Re:Replicant detector? (1)

pieterh (196118) | more than 7 years ago | (#15903497)

That is... very funny. Brilliant, even.

Re:Replicant detector? (1)

cmeans (81143) | more than 7 years ago | (#15903580)

"Because I'm a turtle too."


Great answer courtesy of Vala [gateworld.net] on Stargate SG1 [tv.com] .

on top of that (5, Insightful)

Loconut1389 (455297) | more than 7 years ago | (#15903243)

... their statistics are based on actors- who can't reasonably be expected to have genuine responses to those types of questions.

I bet there are quite a high percentage of people who, just by hooking them up to the polygraph apparatus (which is basically what we're talking about) would have elevated levels and potentially have a panic attack in some percentage of the population.

I'm betting they wouldn't even require a licensed (or certified, or whatever) polygrapher to run it, further decreasing the accuracy on an already questionable technology.

Pretending to be a terrorist gives 85% success (4, Insightful)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 7 years ago | (#15903246)

If I were a terrorist, I would pretend to be a normal person, this thing won't fly.

It reminds me of films like Airplane where the scanners stop and beat up the little old grannies but welcome the missile/gun toting libyans through.

Re:Pretending to be a terrorist gives 85% success (1)

operagost (62405) | more than 7 years ago | (#15903513)

It reminds me of films like Airplane where the scanners stop and beat up the little old grannies but welcome the missile/gun toting libyans through.
You wouldn't be suggesting we profile passengers, would you? Verboten on slashdot!

Re:Pretending to be a terrorist gives 85% success (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15903603)


You wouldn't be suggesting we profile passengers, would you? Verboten on slashdot!


The problem with profiling is that it actually makes slipping someone with bad intentions onto a plane EASIER.

Any set of profiles for "who to watch" implicitly defines a set of "who to ignore" (or at least pass easily) Once this is in place, it is simply a matter of recruiting a single person (wittingly or unwittingly) from the ignore list and the explosive gel gets a fast path through security.

It has already been done.

That is why profiling is a bad idea.

Desensitized (3, Informative)

iknowcss (937215) | more than 7 years ago | (#15903250)

So when this becomes common practice, will you really be suprised when you're asked a string of questions like this?

Guantanamo Boom (4, Interesting)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 7 years ago | (#15903259)

Bush will buy these systems that let one in six lying terrorists through, while sending one in twelve random innocents to Guantanamo. Instead of spending a mere $6M (2/1000ths of 1% of the Iraq War bill to date) on explosives detection systems [nwsource.com] .

Re:Guantanamo Boom (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15903419)

Why do you hate America?

Re:Guantanamo Boom (1, Funny)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 7 years ago | (#15903503)

My theory is that Slashdot's Anonymous Cowards are all Guantanamo kidnappees, forced to astroturf for Rumsfeld. That explains how lame are their arguments repeating BushCo propaganda.

Greeeatt... (4, Funny)

Sefert (723060) | more than 7 years ago | (#15903265)

Now my fear of flying is going to get me a cavity search. Life is just coming up roses for me...

Re:Greeeatt... (1)

mdielmann (514750) | more than 7 years ago | (#15903599)

Life is just coming up roses for me...

Well, it won't exactly be roses for the security staff, either....

Re:Greeeatt... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15903669)

The person doing the cavity search should NOT be putting BOTH hands on your shoulders.

I'm just sayin'

What? Actors? (1)

ConfusedGuy (791335) | more than 7 years ago | (#15903267)

Part of the difficulty developing a system like this is lack of real data. I mean, they've built more of an actor detector than a terrorist detector. Unless you have the biometric responses of terrorists who were actually trying to board a plane you're always going to have high false-positive rates just to be on the safe side.

And just like a lie detector... (3, Insightful)

Billosaur (927319) | more than 7 years ago | (#15903270)

...the idea is utterly worthless, since if you're a polished and practiced enough liar, your bodily functions are not going to change significantly, because you believe every word you're speaking. And plenty of people are going to be nervous at the types of questions, the thought that they might be lying when asked if they've used drugs or something similar when they remember the pot they smoked in college, and generally be ramped up anyway from waiting around to pass through security. It's the same process that causes your blood pressure to be higher in the doctor's office than it is when you take it at home.

Re:And just like a lie detector... (1)

Reality Master 101 (179095) | more than 7 years ago | (#15903684)

...the idea is utterly worthless, since if you're a polished and practiced enough liar, your bodily functions are not going to change significantly, because you believe every word you're speaking.

I don't think they send the polished, intelligent, cool-under-pressure terrorists to blow themselves up. Generally, they send the expendable, naive, "777 virgins when I die" terrorists.

In any case, why do so many people equate "not perfect" with "utterly worthless"? If you're waiting for a perfect system, it's never going to happen.

Totally unnecessary... (3, Interesting)

Ancient_Hacker (751168) | more than 7 years ago | (#15903284)

TOtally unnecessary, as in addition to the bio machine, you need a trained interrogator, who could just as easily notice sweating, blushing, trembling, and in addition will notice a bunch of other facial and body language clues that the machine cant.

If you've ever seen a 6-foot tall crew cut tough as nails El Al employee ask you about your luggage, you know what I mean. They'll paw thru yuour luggage, pull out an orange, shove it one half inch from your nose and ask: "AND *WHAT* is *THIS*!??"

Re:Totally unnecessary... (2, Interesting)

realisticradical (969181) | more than 7 years ago | (#15903699)

Actually I think simply hiring people to do El-Al style interogations would help airline security substantially. Instead of asking "Did you pack your bags yourself" El Al asks only open ended questions and a lot of questions they know the answer to. So it's, "Why are you flying to Israel" "Who are you flying with" "Where did you buy your ticket" "Who packed your luggage". They also ask follow up questions. Their security is already miles ahead of everyone else, I'm not sure why they would want to rely on an easily fooled polygraph test.

role-playing terrorists? (3, Insightful)

eliot1785 (987810) | more than 7 years ago | (#15903287)

So people who weren't actually terrorists managed to generate an 85% positive rate? That would suggest that this can be easily triggered by overall nervousness (or in this case, people inducing nervousness in themselves as part of the role-playing). What is the difference between the mindset of "I need to be nervous so that I will act like a terrorist in accordance with my role" and "Oh my god, why does this TSA official think I'm a terrorist"? It's not real clear to me.

A real lie-detector test (like the polygraph) ought to be able to tell the difference between nervousness and an actual sense of having told a lie. Otherwise this is worthless.

Re:role-playing terrorists? (1)

OverlordQ (264228) | more than 7 years ago | (#15903460)

A real lie-detector test (like the polygraph) ought to be able to tell the difference between nervousness and an actual sense of having told a lie. Otherwise this is worthless.

Insightful?

This thing:
The Wall Street Journal has this story about a biometric airport security system which uses biometric responses -- blood pressure, pulse and sweat levels


Polygraph:
A polygraph (commonly and inaccurately referred to as a "lie detector") is a device which measures and records several physiological variables such as blood pressure, heart rate, respiration and skin conductivity


You know, it kinda sounds like they're pretty much doing the exact same thing.

"role-acting"? (4, Interesting)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 7 years ago | (#15903288)

Doesn't catching "role-acting" terrorists also imply that these people were bad actors?

Re:"role-acting"? (1)

JamesP (688957) | more than 7 years ago | (#15903388)

Maybe Holywood will find new uses for this technology!

Oh wait...

Sounds great! Here's my solution though (5, Funny)

Rik Sweeney (471717) | more than 7 years ago | (#15903293)

If you see anyone acting suspiciously, security can walk up to them and ask

"terroristsayswhat?"

most of them will reply

"what?"

proving that they are a terrorist.

Bingo! A solution that's just as reliable as a lie detector test...

first they confiscate my meds... (4, Funny)

10sball (80009) | more than 7 years ago | (#15903296)

then they accuse me of having high blood pressure?

there's no way out of this one, is there?

Hypothetical Bad day? (3, Insightful)

Grendol (583881) | more than 7 years ago | (#15903316)

Your late getting to the airport on a hot Atlanta day, sweaty and frazzled, you just took your heart medication and blood pressure drugs, and this machine flags you as being suspicious.

AARP is going to have something new to talk about soon if this is the way things are going.

Considering Sen. Ted Kennedy supposedly made it on a 'no fly list' , all I can quip is 'just think of the possibilities'.

Airport Tricorder (2, Funny)

krell (896769) | more than 7 years ago | (#15903319)

"Did you poison the quadrotriticale?"

Re:Airport Tricorder (1)

Itninja (937614) | more than 7 years ago | (#15903597)

My God! This man isn't a terrorist at all! He's a freedom fighter that's been surgically alter to look like a terrorist!

Oscar Wilde (5, Funny)

Rik Sweeney (471717) | more than 7 years ago | (#15903323)

I can just imagine him in today's society:

I have nothing to declare except my genius

Security! We have a terrorist mastermind in our midst! Get him!

The League Against Tedium (1)

Larry Lightbulb (781175) | more than 7 years ago | (#15903480)

I remember when I posed as a customs officer to meet Oscar Wilde. "Have you anything to declare?" I enquired. "I have nothing to declare but my genius," he replied. "I shall put that down as 'nothing', then, shall I?" I said. For I am the wittiest man on Earth bar none, and have two sharp fists to prove it.

Polygraph Tests? (5, Insightful)

spyinnzus (923219) | more than 7 years ago | (#15903335)

This looks a whole lot like a polygraph test, which has been considered in court an unnecessary breach of privacy. You can't use them for evidence and you can't use them for interviews (unless you're the FBI). So what gives us the legal precedent to use them on travelers?

I can't wait! (3, Funny)

plopez (54068) | more than 7 years ago | (#15903383)

Until the Diebold version comes out.

not to be a soggy blanket (1)

MrSquirrel (976630) | more than 7 years ago | (#15903389)

If terrorists are going to invest many years and gobs of money into planning their plots and they are thorougly devoted to their cause... isn't it likely that they would overcome this method by learning to act / control themselves under pressure? If 15% of ordinary people who are just getting paid to pretend they are terrorists can get through, I'd hate to see the percentage of real-terrorists-willing-to-blow-themselves-up-and- kill-many-innocent-people-because-they-think-it's- what-their-god-wants could get through.

So that means that... (1)

exp(pi*sqrt(163)) (613870) | more than 7 years ago | (#15903395)

...85% of role-players were able to convince this thing that they were terrorists despite the fact that they weren't? And this is newsworthy? The I Ching is more reliable. Except in this case I'm not exaggerating. The I Ching really is more reliable.

With proper training... (1)

Conspiracy_Of_Doves (236787) | more than 7 years ago | (#15903396)

With proper biofeedback training, you can learn to control your own biometric responses (heart rate, galvanic skin response, etc). If anything like this were put into place, the terrorists would simply resort to that kind of training.

Detecting Explosives (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15903399)

The TSA is a bit better off with those machines that can physically detect explosive traces on people than a "lie detector test". Although I'd like to see them improve the technology, because the current ones being tried are pretty limited in what they can detect and have too high a false positive rate themselves.

Blood Pressure Detector? Useless! (4, Interesting)

rickkas7 (983760) | more than 7 years ago | (#15903405)

From the Article: Within a year, he predicts, such technology will be able to tell whether someone's "blood pressure or heart rate is significantly higher than the last 10 people" who entered an airport. What use is blood pressure for detecting terrorists? 16 % of people in the United States have undiagnosed hypertension [stfm.org] . I suppose it might make for good public health screening, but I'm thinking that's a pretty bad way to detect terrorists, except perhaps those who like to binge on fast food and don't exercise...

Skin Sensing Saw (1)

webhead74 (675983) | more than 7 years ago | (#15903407)

This ought to work great with the new Skin Sensing Table Saw [slashdot.org] . Just find the terrorists & let the saw do the rest.

Great for catching good actors! (1)

glindsey (73730) | more than 7 years ago | (#15903410)


In the latest Israeli trial, the system caught 85% of the role-acting terrorists


Finally, we have a way to identify people pretending to be terrorists! Excellent!

Honestly, how do you possibly test this? A terrorist that isn't nervous in the slightest will breeze right through, while anybody with social anxiety disorder, or people with phobias of authority figures, will be rounded up as "potential threats". Give me a break.

8 % Palestinian (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15903426)

I guess Palestinians made up 8 % of the test group ;-)

Blade Runner (1)

necro81 (917438) | more than 7 years ago | (#15903434)

It's also pretty good at picking out replicants [imdb.com] (androids) from humans.

Do Terrorists Dream of Electric Sheep? (1)

ollj (966671) | more than 7 years ago | (#15903741)

Or Thetans ;)

Do you make thoughtless remarks or accusations which later you regret?
When others are getting rattled, do you remain fairly composed?
Do you browse through railway timetables, directories, or dictionaries just for pleasure?
When asked to make a decision, would you be swayed by your like or dislike of the personality involved?
Do you intend two or less children in your family even though your health and income will permit more?
Do you get occasional twitches of your muscles, when there is no logical reason for it?
Would you prefer to be in a position where you did not have the responsibilities of making decisions?
Are your actions considered unpredictable by other people?
Do you consider more money should be spent on social security?
Do other people interest you very much?
Is your voice monotonous, rather than varied in pitch?
Do you normally let the other person start the conversation?
Are you readily interested in other people's conversations?
Would the idea of inflicting pain on game, small animals or fish prevent you from hunting or fishing?
Are you often impulsive in your behavior?
Do you speak slowly?
Are you usually concerned about the need to protect your health?
Does an unexpected action cause your muscles to twitch?
Are you normally considerate in your demands on your employees, relatives, or pupils?
Do you consider that you could give a valid "snap judgment"?
Do your past failures still worry you?
Do you find yourself being extra-active for periods lasting several days?
Do you resent the efforts of others to tell you what to do?
Is it normally hard for you to "own up and take the blame"?
Do you have a small circle of close friends, rather than a large number of friends, speaking acquaintances?
Is your life a constant struggle for survival?
Do you often sing or whistle just for the fun of it?
Are you considered warm-hearted by your friends?
Would you rather give orders than take them?
Do you enjoy telling people the latest scandal about your associates?
Could you agree to "strict discipline"?
Would the idea of making a complete new start cause you much concern?
Do you make efforts to get others to laugh and smile?
Do you find it easy to express your emotions?
Do you refrain from complaining when the other person is late for an appointment?
Are you sometimes considered by others a "spoilsport"?
Do you consider there are other people who are definitely unfriendly toward you and work against you?
Would you admit you were wrong just to "keep the peace"?
Do you have only a few people of whom you are really fond?
Are you rarely happy, unless you have a special reason?
Describe in single words, only the good things that come into your mind about: your mother.

(Only the last qhestion is NOT from scientology, last line is from that book/movie, not to be taken serious!)

Not bad as an alternative... (1)

doctor_nation (924358) | more than 7 years ago | (#15903435)

If I have a choice between carry-on luggage and this, I'll take this. Will it catch everyone (terrorists, drug smugglers, etc)? No. But our current system doesn't either. 8% false positive? What percent of people are currently searched randomly? Maybe not that many, but it wouldn't necessarily be prohibitive to hit that number. After all, the UK is currently screening 50% of all passengers, down from 100%. It's hard to say what the actual rate of success and false positives are without putting it into a real-world situation. I'm sure it doesn't go off if you're just nervous about going through security- I'm guessing there's more to it than simple nervousness. After all, I imagine everyone is nervous when strapped into a polygraph, yet they still work. Plus, anyone who is planning on killing themselves and a bunch of other people is probably a ball of nerves (unless they're on drugs of some sort). Also, consider that most of these plots involve several people- three or four. So all of them would have to get through without setting anything off.

Re:Not bad as an alternative... (1)

Wisconsingod (995241) | more than 7 years ago | (#15903620)

Polygraph Tests are collaborated by a professional for each individual it is hooked up to. That is why they work for most people, because their basic nervousness from being connected is collaborated into the zero. If this wasn't the case, then they would be completely unreliable, as would this general biometric system.

i for one welcome our new overlords (1)

qunu (989308) | more than 7 years ago | (#15903439)

Heard Aug. 11, an NPR interview with Michael Chertoff, US cop of cops. The question he addresses is long-term anti-terrorist policy, the need for psychological studies of what makes "a person turn from an ordinary person to a bomber."
This is his answer:
"Clearly at the end of the day, we've got to eliminate that pool of people who are susceptible to becoming killers."

What a stupid system (1)

DrXym (126579) | more than 7 years ago | (#15903448)

A system that incorrectly identifies 8% of respondents as terrorists is a useless system. Some people freak out when accused of something even if they didn't do it. Given that tens of thousands of people pass through an airport in a regular day it means you're meant to detain and disrupt hundreds of travellers. Given that the average number of terrorists passing through an airport is diminishingly small, this system would be a total waste of time and money.

If the intent is to scare would be terrorists, I suggest they could achieve the same effect with a pretend system that lights a bulb when the security officer doesn't like the answer he is hearing.

Sounds like a lie detector (1)

gorehog (534288) | more than 7 years ago | (#15903453)

Measuring pulse, bp, and sweat by galvanic response no dount. Lie detectors dont work. They're like the war on drugs. We want to believe it works, but in the end it's a big waste of money and it hurts innocent people for no real result.

Questions, questions... (2, Funny)

Kawolski (939414) | more than 7 years ago | (#15903454)

"Are you smuggling drugs?" If I was working the ticket counter, I'd ask couples "Do you cheat on your spouse?" That would provoke a much more interesting response.

A problem (1)

rinkjustice (24156) | more than 7 years ago | (#15903456)

A machine measured biometric responses -- blood pressure, pulse and sweat levels -- that then were analyzed by software

I can forsee alot of innocent passengers with anxiety disorders getting screwed.

Are you smuggling air gel? (1)

faramir_fr (831190) | more than 7 years ago | (#15903461)

nuff said :)

How about something _reliable,_ like... (1)

dpbsmith (263124) | more than 7 years ago | (#15903464)

trial by ordeal [wikipedia.org] ? Or having the airline boarding agent stare into the eyes of every brownish-skinned male aged 15-30 and denying boarding to the ones with shifty eyes? Or seeing which passengers little Fido (he's so intuitive, he can just sense these things) growls at?

It's obscene that something like this is even being considered. This is nothing but a polygraph test... a rush-job polygraph test conducted under poor conditions.

Even on the face of it--and one can be sure that these company's tests and reported results put their best foot forward--the system is useless. If one in ten million passengers is a terrorist, then according to the cited results it will yield 80,000 false alarms for every actual detection. In the old fable, "the boy who cried wolf" was ignored after only three false alarms.

Why not just require a security clearance to fly? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15903472)

Make obtaining a security clearance a pre-requisite to flying. Full background check, polygraph (complete with questions about your sexual proclivities) - the works.


This will eliminate almost all terrorists, along with 90% of all legitimate travelers. Think of how uncrowded the airports will be!

Note a lone solution (1)

jdwclemson (953895) | more than 7 years ago | (#15903479)

This clearly is not a solution that would go by itself. If a person could get pass this system, they would have already gotten through every other security measure in place, so it is not reasonable to suggest lowered safety resulting from this procedure. The harm from being a false positive would also be minimal. I have not heard so much as a suggestion that this technology be used to press charges. If you cause a flag, you wait in line a while longer while they check you out in detail. This sounds a lot smarter than the current "terrorists only go one way" policy. Also keep in mind that the system caught 85% of the the role acting terrorists, there was no mention of false positives, so this only tells us that 85% were not caught. This of if a plot consisted of 5 terrorists, run that through statistical analysis and this system would have better than 98% change of catching at least one of them. Do not be closed to new technology like this. I am not saying it is not too intrusive or that it is perfect, but it sounds worthy of consideration.

Hmmmmm (2, Interesting)

SengirV (203400) | more than 7 years ago | (#15903486)

I don't know about anyone else, but wheneve I fly my blood preasure goes WAY up, I sweat a lot more and I am usually VERY pissed because of the inefficiency EVERYWHERE. I'm sure I'd get flagged every time. This is total BS. I know lots of people who do the same thing, whether it's the stress fo flying, running late, flight delays, etc... I dont' see this working.

systems that identify liquids in carry-ons, systems that detect material on clothing that are common in bomb making, etc... are MUCH better options.

Putting people in a two hour long queue to go thru this system and then flagging them for being upset, sweating, etc... is just plain idiotic.

Psychological (1)

N8F8 (4562) | more than 7 years ago | (#15903528)

Even is we're only talking a max accuracy of 75%, the impact on potential terrorists will be much higher. One more hurdle for them to jump. I wonder if they bothered to test this on subjects under the influence of depressants? I'veh eard it isn't unusual for terrorists to take drugs to get in the correct state of mind.

This reminds me of the "SARS test"... (1)

The_REAL_DZA (731082) | more than 7 years ago | (#15903534)

Anybody remember SARS? No? Yeah, once upon a time it's all travelers to-and-from Asia talked about, but it's a little passe' now... anyway, in the Shanghai International Airport they had (this was in '02; I have no idea what they're doing now, if anything, to "detect" passengers who have/may have SARS) what appeared to be an infrared camera pointed at the line they herded passengers through ( everyone had to have their "SARS test", and their "checked; OK" card, to proceed) -- I presume (couldn't get an actual answer out of anyone, and didn't really want to press my luck 7,000 miles from home in a country where I speak about 1/1000th of the language carrying a 10-month-old and what felt like a metric ton of luggage...) the idea was that if someone were trying to travel with a high fever it'd set off an alarm and further measures would be taken. Of course it immediately occurred to me that a belly full of Tylenol or Motrin might help "patient zero" on his/her travels...

Air travel may become non-viable (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15903551)

This morning on the radio they had a business analyst talking about the trend of companies to charter jets for executive travel. His point was that although a biz-jet is expensive (starting at $1000/hr.) the cost might not be that much more than regular business class fares (I assume you have several people flying). Taking a charter jet saves a lot of time. You turn up ten minutes before departure and fly directly to the airport you want to go to. His point was that this trend could cost the airlines the cream of their business.

There was also a story [bbc.co.uk] about musicians not being able to carry their instruments any more.

I gave up flying a long time ago because of the hassle and I've seen similar sentiments on many blogs. I realize that teleconferencing needs a lot of improvement but I'd much rather do that than fly any more.

When enough people are turned off flying by the security and lousy airline service, the industry as a whole may find itself unable to make a profit. For sure if every twelfth passenger is tagged as a terrorist, they will lose those customers.

You can call me Al (1)

purple_cobra (848685) | more than 7 years ago | (#15903573)

"In the latest Israeli trial, the system caught 85% of the role-acting terrorists...
So I'm guessing this would be a bunch of Israelis from the developers' marketing department wearing comedy fake beards and calling each other Al?[1] Oh, and they'll probably have their collars turned-up, theatrically shifty eyes, and long, twirlable moustaches.
I suspect the accuracy may not be as great as the company PR would suggest.

[1] ObPratchett, of course. Jingo, IIRC.

I didn't RTFA, but (1)

winphreak (915766) | more than 7 years ago | (#15903587)

if face == arab { flag face; } else { return 0; } (Take it as a little joke, I'm not prejudice)

False positives are way too high (1)

Registered Coward v2 (447531) | more than 7 years ago | (#15903612)

While the percentages look good, the actual numbers are much different. Let's suppose for every 100 people, 1 is a criminal / terrorist/smuggler. Using this,

85% catch rate - You'll have 1 real person caught 85% of the time - =.85
8 % false positives - 8 innocents pulled aside per 100 = 8
Total checked - 8.85

Total id for further review = 8.85 of with on average .85 will be a terrorist / criminal - 8.85 - .85/8.9 = 90% of the people stopped will be innocent - so the guard is faced with the sisituation where he /she knows the detector is usually wrong - I wonder how hard it is for a real bad guy to talk themselves out of the situation.

Of course, the real ratio of bad guy to innocent is probably much lower than 1 per hundred - making the test even harder.

While I think a profiling / biometric approach is better than the search everyone badly approach it needs to be well understood and part of a more complete way to screen passengers. Two bios - one at the entrance to the airport and another for boarding may be a better start.

That's the trouble - low FR look good until you see their impact on the total population identified as positive.

So let me get this straight. (2, Funny)

thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) | more than 7 years ago | (#15903632)

85% of people pretending to be terrorists were identified as threats?

Sounds like an 85% false positive rate to me...

Wouldnt work in america (1)

kbox (980541) | more than 7 years ago | (#15903680)

blood pressure, pulse and sweat levels
Well that's 90% of the american population screwed then.
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