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Mind-Reading Systems Could Change Air Security

The AP via YellowBrix

January 08, 2010


LIE DETECTORS

One system being studied by Homeland Security is called the Future Attribute Screening Technology, or FAST, and works like a souped-up polygraph.

It would subject people pulled aside for additional screening to a battery of tests, including scans of facial movements and pupil dilation, for signs of deception. Small platforms similar to the balancing boards used in the Nintendo Wii would help detect fidgeting.

At a public demonstration of the system in Boston last year, project manager Robert Burns explained that people who harbor ill will display involuntary physiological reactions that others _ such as those who are stressed out for ordinary reasons, such as being late for a plane _ don’t.

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The system could be made to work passively, scanning people as they walk through a security line, according to Burns.

Field testing of the system, which will cost around $20 million to develop, could begin in 2011, The Boston Globe said in a story about the demonstration. Addressing one concern of civil libertarians, Burns said the technology would delete data after each screening.


THE ISRAELI MODEL

Some say the U.S. should take a page from Israel’s book on security.

At Israeli airports, widely considered the most secure in the world, travelers are subjected to probing personal questions as screeners look them straight in the eye for signs of deception. Searches are meticulous, with screeners often scrutinizing every item in a bag, unfolding socks, squeezing toothpaste and flipping through books.

“All must look to Israel and learn from them. This is not a post-911 thing for them. They’ve been doing this since 1956,” said Michael Goldberg, president of New York-based IDO Security Inc., which developed a device that can scan shoes while they are still on people’s feet.

Israel also employs profiling: At Ben-Gurion Airport, Jewish Israelis typically pass through smoothly, while others may be taken aside for closer interrogation or even strip searches. Another distinquishing feature of Israeli airports is that they rely on concentric security rings that start miles from terminal buildings.


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