Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Penny for your thoughts

By Capt. Fogg

You arrive in the airport terminal a bit frazzled by the traffic jams, congestion in the parking lot, the escalators; you keep looking at your watch because it's getting close to boarding time and you have that long security line ahead where you have to take off your belt and shoes and have your toiletries examined. You've begun to sweat, your heart is pounding. Quickly you look at the Departures screen to see if maybe you've lucked out and your flight is ten minutes late: WHAT? did I just see that? did the screen say "I'm going to blow up the plane" for a microsecond? Before you can finish asking yourself whether you've broken under the stress of modern air travel, two men in black suits and sunglasses grab your arms and lead you away into a little room. . . .

No, I'm not dabbling in sci-fi here. It's entirely possible that it could happen to you if some of the biometric devices being tested to read your thoughts and intentions are adopted. It's not enough to know whether you're carrying a dangerous nail clipper or an ounce too much of Johnson's baby shampoo anymore. They want to know your intentions and they think they can do it.

Several Israeli-based technology companies are developing detection systems that pick up signs of emotional strain, a psychological red flag that a passenger may intend to commit an act of terror,

says CNN.

One firm, WeCU (pronounced "We See You") Technologies, employs a combination of infra-red technology, remote sensors and imagers, and flashing of subliminal images, such as a photo of Osama bin Laden. Developers say the combination of these technologies can detect a person's reaction to certain stimuli by reading body temperature, heart rate and respiration, signals a terrorist unwittingly emits before he plans to commit an attack.

If the machine can tell the difference between the fear of losing your job if you're late for a meeting, fear of mind reading machines themselves; fear about any number of things including airplanes, I would be amazed, even though we do live in an age of amazing technology. Will the Mercedes dealer install these things to determine if you're really able to buy or are just kicking tires?

Technology gets smaller and cheaper at a predictable rate. I'm absolutely positive that within a few years it will be available for under $100 and be as small as a wristwatch or hearing aid or at least small enough to fit in your wife's purse. So don't rely on those Ray-Bans to keep her unaware of just how fascinating that mini-skirt in front of you is. She'll know.

(Cross-posted from
Human Voices.)

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