Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

found on POLITECH. My comments in italics

NASA plans to read terrorist's minds at airports
By Frank J. Murray

Airport security screeners may soon try to read the minds of travelers to identify terrorists.

Officials of the National Aeronautics and space Administration have told Northwest Airlines security specialists that the agency is developing brain-monitoring devices in cooperation with a commercial firm, which it did not identify.

Space technology would be adapted to receive and analyze brain-wave and heartbeat patterns, then feed that data into computerized programs "to detect passengers who potentially might pose a threat," according to briefing documents obtained by The Washington Times.

Now this is scary... oops. That thought would probably set off a alarm... Aren't these polygraph sort of technologies notoriously inaccurate? Linked with all of the horrible things we are hearing about treatment in airports and the new database of fingerprints and photos they are making, are we going to end up with a database and a jail full of all of the people who would be nervous about having their brains scanned?

NASA wants to use "noninvasive neuro-electric sensors," (Sounds like an oxymoron.) imbedded in gates, to collect tiny electric signals that all brains and hearts transmit. Computers would apply statistical algorithms to correlate physiologic patterns with computerized data on travel routines, criminal background and credit information from "hundreds to thousands of data sources," NASA documents say.

The notion has raised privacy concerns. (duh...) Mihir Kshirsagar of the Electronic Privacy Information Center says such technology would only add to airport-security chaos. "A lot of people's fear of flying would send those meters off the chart. Are they going to pull all those people aside?"

NASA plans to read terrorist's minds at airports -- The Washington Times

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From David Farber's IP List


Michael Braukus
Headquarters, Washington August 20, 2002
(Phone: 202/358-1979)

RELEASE: 02-160


NASA managers today said published media reports
suggesting the agency plans to read the minds of potential
terrorists go too far and ignore the facts and science behind
the research.

The articles were based on a NASA presentation, which served
as talking points for a meeting with Northwest Airlines in
December 2001. The presentation was in response to the call
from the Federal Government for all agencies to look inward
and find what could be done to help in the war on terrorism.

"NASA does not have the capability to read minds, nor are we
suggesting that would be done," said Robert Pearce, Director,
NASA's Strategy and Analysis Division in the Office of
Aerospace Technology in Washington. "Our scientists were
asked to think outside the box with regards to ideas that
could aid the nation in the war on terrorism and that's what
they are doing. We have not approved any research in this
area and because of the sensitivity of such research, we will
seek independent review before we do."

The information contained in the presentation identified
research and development challenges that NASA is currently
aware of in the information technology arena, and the agency
offered some limited thoughts and proposed possible solutions
in this field. Some of the ideas will take several years of
effort to establish, if there is a practical application.