Would the assembled congregation please open their prayer-books and recite with me the Futurismic mantra: Everything Can And Will Be Hacked. And, far from being more easily controlled by technology, the kids will be better at hacking it than the people deploying it [via SlashDot]; this is the 21st Century evolution of the way my mother used to ask me to open her “child-proof” medicine containers for her back in the 80s.
Regular readers (and other brands of cynic) will find this to be no shock whatsoever: natural changes in the human body due to aging and health issues can render biometric identification systems “inherently fallible”. Sometimes stuff gets hacked without anyone even trying.
The Guardian reports that the U.S. government is looking for a way to spot evildoers by scanning for “physiological abnormalities.” A call for proposals says:
Early research has shown that pupil size varies with changes in a person’s cognitive processing load. Current but unproven studies suggest that a cognitive decision to deceive or practise deception will result in an increased pupil size due to the greater cognitive processing required in comparison to truthful recall.
Sounds more than a bit like the Voight-Kampff replicant-detector test from Blade Runner (it was Philip K. Dick’s idea, Guardian, not Ridley Scott’s). The reporter adds an appropriate note of skepticism:
I wonder how often a system might raise a false alarm, since a lot of people are pretty stressed going through airports even when they’re not up to anything mischievous.
Get this, the next time you’re at the airport, security cameras could be watching your every step and feeding it into a computer, from where security officials could crosscheck your gait-type with CCTV footage to spot suspected terrorists:
A database of different gaits thus created may enable security officials to recognise the gait of individuals checking in at an airport, even before they entered the concourse. The researchers say that a comparison of such data with CCTV footage may also be used to track suspect terrorists or criminals who may otherwise be disguising their features or be carrying forged documents.
What about privacy issues?
They insist that gait recognition has a significant advantage over more well-known biometrics, including fingerprinting and iris scanning, in that it is entirely unobtrusive.
It seems like a workable idea, but when you consider how many people pass through airports everyday, and how long it would take to capture the gaits of enough people to have an unbiased sample size to work with, and the accuracy of the gait recognition, you start to override the practicalities that are initially presented. [image by chilling soul]
Ever look at the guy next to you in the lineup at airport security and wonder, "Is he a terrorist?" Well, scientists at the University at Buffalo are working on automated systems to help answer that question before those questionable individuals ever get on the plane–although, unlike you, their suspicions hopefully won’t be fueled by a mistrust of bald men with earrings or the fact your ex-wife’s mother looked just like that before she started smashing your prize collection of Star Wars figurines.
Instead, the system will track faces, voices, bodies and other biometrics against "scientifically tested behavioral indicators" to provide a numerical score of the likelihood that an individual may be about to commit a terrorist act. (Via Science Daily.)
Smile for the camera! But not as if you have something to hide… (Photo from Wikimedia Commons.)
[tags]security, biometrics, terrorism, technology[/tags]