October 9, 2011

Pre-crime detection in US! Minority Report?

I recently read this post on CNet about Pre-Crime Criminal Intent Testing experiment going on in the US. Reminds me of Minority Report. Freaky!
The only difference between this experiment & the movie is, in the movie it was Psychics who were helping detect crimes before they happened. In the experient, they are using algorithms. (Using Psychics sounds way cooler!)

US Homeland Security is building a "prototype screening facility" that it hopes will use factors such as ethnicity, gender, breathing, and heart rate to "detect cues indicative of mal-intent." They call this project, FAST, Future Attribute Screening Technology.

FAST is designed to track and monitor, among other inputs, body movements, voice pitch changes, prosody changes (alterations in the rhythm and intonation of speech), eye movements, body heat changes, and breathing patterns, blink rate and pupil variation, occupation and age.
A field test of FAST has been conducted in at least one undisclosed location in the northeast. "It is not an airport, but it is a large venue that is a suitable substitute for an operational setting," DHS spokesman John Verrico told Nature.com in May.
Although DHS has publicly suggested that FAST could be used at airport checkpoints--the Transportation Security Administration is part of the department, after all--the government appears to have grander ambitions. One internal DHS document also obtained by EPIC through the Freedom of Information Act (equivalent to the Right to Information in India) says a mobile version of FAST "could be used at security checkpoints such as border crossings or at large public events such as sporting events or conventions."

DHS on Privacy Issues : "The FAST program is entirely voluntary and does not store any personally-identifiable information (PII) from participants once the experiment is completed. The system is not designed to capture or store PII. Any information that is gathered is stored under an anonymous identifier and is only available to DHS as aggregated performance data. It is only used for laboratory protocol as we are doing research and development. It is gathered when people sign up as volunteers, not by the FAST system. If it were ever to be deployed, there would be no PII captured from people going through the system." (The DHS Privacy Office has said that the system does contain personally-identifiable information and that FAST "is a privacy sensitive system." DHS defines a privacy sensitive system as "any system that collects, uses, disseminates, or maintains" personally-identifiable information.

Crazy, huh? Are we finally breaching the boundaries of Science Fiction & Reality within one lifetime?

Next, I expect hearing that Master Yoda is screening for potential Jedi padawans. (If you don't get it, read Star Wars)

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