New DHS screening system keeps us safe
Published: Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, October 19, 2011 19:10
The Department of Homeland Security has finally given the all clear for a new type of security screening termed "Future Attribute Screening Technologies," or "FAST" for short.
The research began in 2008 for a sensory system that could attempt to predict hostile thoughts in individuals and possibly foresee intended acts of terrorism. Sound a bit farfetched? Well, think again; it's real, and I support the idea.
According to Gizmodo, this sensory detector is still in the early phases and not coming to an airport near you just yet. Homeland Security is now working with volunteers to gauge the machine's accuracy rate. According to the article, "The system uses a battery of sensors — everything from simple cameras to infrared sensors to eye-safe laser radars — to do its job, and it then collates the data to determine if people are displaying biological markers that betray mal-intent."
"Markers of biological intent," simply put, are the characters displayed by the body that are not considered normal behaviors either consciously or unconsciously. There are certain reactions the human body has when stressed that even a "well-oiled terrorist" may not have the slightest iota his vital signs just gave him up. The typical physiological signs of stress are not as easy to control and are often involuntary: perfuse sweating, elevated blood pressure, labored breathing and jerk-like movements. Yes, it may sound like a heart attack, too; however, a physically fit and somewhat-younger individual should not be in such a condition. Well, I sincerely hope not, but at least it could warrant a second look.
During the initial testing of volunteers, most were advised to intentionally deviate from their normal behavior and act suspiciously. The FAST system scored a 78 percent success rate. Not bad, not bad at all. However, it's not that simple. Nothing goes without controversy; the backlog of complaints from people addressing "over-the-top" airport screenings are a perfect example. For some civil-liberties folk, "big brother" has gone too far this time, or has he?
Yes, we are all concerned about our privacy but I think some protesters are more concerned if this gadget will have "fancier x-ray machines" and notice that their undergarments don't match. Do any of us really care about that stuff anymore? In the interest of National Security, I really don't think that's even a credible issue to argue. As for the added storing of identity and personal information argument, I hate to break it to you, but the United States government already has your name on file.
To be honest, I think people are not truly against "newfangled technology;" they just want to know if the darn thing will work. And are they right to be concerned with the unknown? What if it selects the wrong people? What then? What if people aren't feeling their best, or what if they're stressed out; airports and public transportation tend do that to all of us. Trust me, dealing with baggage claim, cancellations and rambling children is enough to elevate anybody's blood pressure. Does that make you have "hostile intent?" No, but let's give these guys at Homeland Security Headquarters some credit. I'm sure they have spent many years differentiating between frustrations vs. irrationalities.