Big brother wants to read your mind

This is actually old news but I just ran across it reading an old Bruce Schneier post. Here is the story from last September in New Scientist:



Last year, New Scientist revealed that the US Department of Homeland Security is developing a system designed to detect “hostile thoughts” in people walking through border posts, airports and public places. The DHS says recent tests prove it works.

Project Hostile Intent as it was called aimed to help security staff choose who to pull over for a gently probing interview – or more.

Commentators slated the idea that sensors could spot people up to no good from their pulse rate, breathing, skin temperature, or fleeting facial expressions. One likened it to the “pre-crime” units that predict criminal behaviour in the movie Minority Report.


FOXNews has more.


Basically they are doing remote lie detector type measurement without the subject being aware they are being scanned and implying intent from these measurements. Given that lie detectors aren’t particularly reliable I don’t think this will be very effective either. But still, one has to ask, “At what point does it become an unwarranted search and will the courts care?”

7 thoughts on “Big brother wants to read your mind

  1. Sooooo… if I was physically exerting myself more than normal because I was pulling heavy arse luggage behind me and late for my flight… I’d have slightly elevated skin temperature, an increased pulserate, slightly labored breathing… and I’m pretty sure I’d be worried about my flight getting away without me and be looking around everywhere for updates on whether I can make it or not…

    Yeah, this idea sounds like it would definitively tell if I had hostile intent. Absolutely.

    Can’t we channel the funds from this sort of cr*p into something worthwhile… like… oh, I dunno… beer?

  2. I was thinking of how many family or marital issues will be exacerbated this technology.

    If I am upset with my wife, family members, etc during the often stressful process of flying, the TSA will note that and pull me out of line? Guess it would be harder to tell people “No, I’m not upset, let’s just drop it” if I’m yanked out of line for additional screening.

    Guess the government won’t be happy until there is a chip in my head so they can monitor my thoughts…I’ll pass.

  3. I’m sure that I’m not the only one with ‘hostile thoughts’ every time I have to deal with the TSA fascists. I wonder how many false positives this will have to score before it’s scrapped.

  4. I recently saw a report on studies being conducted, wherein brain scans (PET or CAT, or MRI, I don’t remember) were being used to identify specific objects a person was thinking of. It actually worked. It turns out that when you think of, say, a chair, or a cup for example, it causes activity in specific parts of the brain that can be translated. Different people have different reactions in the their brains to the same object of course, but there are enough similarities that it seems to work. Were talking actual mind reading, not just interpreting sings of agitation and such.

  5. How much you wanna bet they don’t grab a disproportinate number of auties and aspies? This is all over the autie fora on the Net, and has been since they first started talking about behavioral profiling. Oh, Lyle, really autistic folks seem to use different parts of their brains for the same functions than do NTs. Hell, I figure I’m just a half-aspie, and it scares the poo out of me.

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