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    • CommentTimeFeb 7th 2010

    Airports Could Get Mind-Reading Scanners

    Bill Christensen – Fri Jan 29, 12:16 am ET

    WeCU Technologies is building a mind-reading scanner that can tell if a given traveler is a potential danger - without the subject's knowledge. WeCU Technologies (pronounced "we see you") is creating a system that would essentially turn the public spaces in airports into vast screening grounds:.

    "The system ... projects images onto airport screens, such as symbols associated with a certain terrorist group or some other image only a would-be terrorist would recognize, company CEO Ehud Givon said.

    "The logic is that people can't help reacting, even if only subtly, to familiar images that suddenly appear in unfamiliar places. If you strolled through an airport and saw a picture of your mother, Givon explained, you couldn't help but respond.

    "The reaction could be a darting of the eyes, an increased heartbeat, a nervous twitch or faster breathing, he said. The WeCU system would use humans to do some of the observing but would rely mostly on hidden cameras or covert biometric sensors that can detect a slight rise in body temperature and heart rate," as reported in Raw Story.

  1.  (7717.2)
    Cool science, but how many false flags is that going to raise on a single day? This could be more annoying than the shoe inspections. And it's a lot of money to spend considering it can be thwarted by just not having icons. You're going to tell me you put a picture of a terrorist leader on the board, and most people aren't going to have some kind of reaction? What if he looks like your dad?

    etc. etc. And then when our government decides we don't have the money for them, surprise! Another timely bungled terrorist attack to convince them we do.
    • CommentTimeFeb 7th 2010
    Mind-reading technology, based on the assumption that the only people who fly more than once are terrorists (the exact opposite of reality).

    You: "Well, yes, you showed me them last time I flew."

    But it won't even get as far as multiple trips, because it completes a feedback loop with CNN which destroys even the possibility of travel until it's disconnected.

    You, about to be buggered: "Of course, idiots."

    Add the fact that the actual "mind-reading" only extends as far as press-releases for idiot security-paranoid purchasers, as all it's doing is picking up brain activity. Try screening a radio for terrorist communications based only on volume and see how far you get. They'll claim they've isolated the right regions (or "neural circuits" if they're feeling particularly clever), but if we had that tech you'd have clicked on this page using it way before it makes it to public screening quality.
  2.  (7717.4)
    Yeah, it sounds like a scam. I can't imagine what they're describing to cost the WeCU (ugh...) company any real money, so they're just milking the fearful American's for a quick payout.

    Shouldn't they be watching for people acting weird already, like, at SECURITY CHECKPOINTS? I would imagine that terrorists might subconsciously act shiftily while being searched for weapons...

    Here's a free solution: Just accuse everyone of being a terrorist individually, then see how they react, then get Dr. Cal Lightman from the show Lie to Me to ferret out the bad guys. Prob solved!
  3.  (7717.5)
    Distress-related physiological scanners have already been rolled out. Their sensitivity ratings were so abysmally low that the only answer is apparently to trigger reactions, which is the only new aspect in the above-mentioned idea and carries with it exactly zero improvements over an already-failed program (one that DHS has invested millions in already, by the way).
    • CommentAuthorroadscum
    • CommentTimeFeb 8th 2010
    Hmmm, couple the scanner with the ADE-651 explosives detector and terrorist attacks will be completely impossible.


    'but how did he get past the detectors?'

    'ah, it seems his turban was lined with tinfoil'
  4.  (7717.7)
    I always wondered why terrorists never used glass as weaponry. You can get it onto the plane in a non-dangerous (whole) form without triggering any alarms, and then break it along a jagged edge to get yourself a rudimentary shiv.

    Also, my ideas scare me sometimes.
  5.  (7717.8)
    Sounds like an update on the great old polygraph scam.
    • CommentAuthorRenThing
    • CommentTimeFeb 8th 2010

    Neal Stephenson did that one already in Snow Crash.
  6.  (7717.10)

    Good to know. Still hasn't affected TSA procedures though to my knowledge, so it sounds like fair game.
    • CommentAuthorroadscum
    • CommentTimeFeb 9th 2010
    I thought hard about the wisdom of posting this, but i've heard the idea mentioned elsewhere and if i can think of it...

    @SilentObjector: There's always your laptop...

    Oh dear, what have i done...
    • CommentAuthorFan
    • CommentTimeFeb 9th 2010
    > Oh dear, what have i done

    XKCD did it: Bag Check.

    That cartoon was mentioned on a TSA blog, and people commented on that.
    • CommentAuthorroadscum
    • CommentTimeFeb 9th 2010 edited
    'XKCD did it'

    Yes, i think that was where i saw it first. Looks a lot more viable than 'liquid explosive' based on what little i know of the chemistry involved.

    Edit: just read the comments on the TSA blog. Interesting.

    Edit again: link inserted
  7.  (7717.14)
    Deplorable, invasion of personal privacy, and human rights. Orwellian, Huxleyan, and H.G. Wellsian. We should not put up with this shite. Ben Franklin had said "Any nation that would give up a little freedom for a little security, deserves neither and will lose both." We should all be wrapping our craniums in Aluminum foils and lead.
  8.  (7717.15)
    @ Silent Observer: Saw a bit regarding a high frequency broadcaster which, in effect would broadcast sounds right into your head. The device pointed at yourself, you'd hear it, seemingly audibly, but you are not. The device simply targets the part of the brain that registers "hearing." So, in effect, they can make you hear voices in your head. This Tech has already been used, a few years back when that "Paranormal State" show was coming out. had read an article regarding a billboard in Manhattan, which operated in the same manner;broadcasting High Frequencey soundwaves into your head, advertising the show. Okay. My next question I'll put to you is this: Have human beings ever invented ANYTHING that the military did not attempt to weaponize? Shite. H.G. Welles Described the Atomic bomb(Coined the term some thirty years before the U.S. Twice blew up Japan. On his death bead, a year later after his prediction had come to pass, he was quoted as saying: My Eptiaph shoud read 'God Damn you ALL, I TOLD YOU SO!'"
    • CommentAuthorRenThing
    • CommentTimeFeb 28th 2010
    Oh Xlbalba, I've missed you. Never change, my friend.
    • CommentTimeMar 1st 2010
    Just as you can train yourself to defeat lie detectors, I don't see why one couldn't eventually train to defeat this as well.

    Control over heart rate and other responses can be learned through variations of biofeedback, and response to familiar symbols outside of their usual context can be practised particularly when the 'novel context' to deal with is a small set of spaces (airports and associated locations).

    These measurements tend to be compared against averages, and those rarely work out well when applied at the individual level.
    For instance, brain images that are averaged across subjects in a study to reveal consistency within a group might give insight into brain structure, but it hardly tells us the layout of a specific individual's brain. Just the most likely starting point. The easy example to bring up is those who survived an incident of severe hydrocephalus near the time of birth. In these exceptional cases you can end up with novel mappings and yet completely normal cognitive function.

    Nothing new.
    Just this type of work (or at least the manner in which it is reported) always irks me in the same way.
    They aren't reading thoughts, they are monitoring body signals. Increasingly specific body signals as this research continues, to be sure, but still.
  9.  (7717.18)
    @ RenThink: Missed you all too. I've actually been in Belize and then Honduras over the passed few months. Volunteer archeological work on newly discovered ancient Maya sites. Also missed a large bit of the nonsense that's been going on here in the states while I was gone. I came back and heard "teabagger movement." and what was I supposed to think...? Running to Bosnia in July, volunteering to work on that pyramid complex as well. But no, I haven't changed much, at least as far as my world view is mostly concerned. First thing I gotta do I strack down this Jesse Ventura show I've seem to've missed. :) Good to see you all again.

    @V: Great point. So this thing, basically, works the way much of a combo between Daredevil and a Shark, right? Body temperature? Heart rate, pulse, and...Encepholographic patterns? I don't know about that last bit actually, that basically makes it a Big MRI machine, right? or an EEG? If that's what these machines are, then they're not just like a polygraph, they'd be worse. Forgoing the the fact that they may be "tricked", how easy is it for Terrorist Organizations, to send their people who might have pace makers, or metal plates in their head? They wouldn't be allowed to step through a big Electro Magnet, rigth? That is if thats how the machine works. Aside from the above article, what of the "Full Body Scanner" that's now becoming mandatory? Takes photo's of you're naked body. Now how am I supposed to smuggle marijuana between my ass crack when flying? No, seriously though, Am I the only one who thinks this is wrong. Forget the numerous H.G. Wells and George Orwell allegories I can make, lets think Ben Franklin. Did he not say something to the tune of "Any nation that would give up a little liberty for a little security deserves neither and will lose both."? Yes. Yes he did, and he was/is correct.
    • CommentAuthorRenThing
    • CommentTimeMar 2nd 2010

    You're working on the ruins they found in Bosnia? Man, color me jealous.

    Glad to hear you're doing ok, was actually a little worried (your last post here before you vanished was a little down), glad to hear everything's ok.
    • CommentTimeMar 2nd 2010

    Sorry to be unclear. I meant my MRI example to be an illustration of averaging measurements. As in, even at that level of detailed measurement we can only compare people against averages and it tends to not work well with outliers or even just marginal cases. The thing being annoyingly reported as a "mind reading scanner" is using biometrics even less directly linked to brain activity than MRI.

    And I agree that the invasion of privacy is very troubling indeed.