Today I attended the Seattle “Smart Gun” Gun Symposium presented by Washington Technology Industry Association in association with Washington CeaseFire.
As you might guess Washington CeaseFire is the primary anti-gun group in Washington State. Ralph Fascitelli, president of Washington CeaseFire, spoke several times and was clearly hostile to gun ownership. But he was fair to and respectful of gun owners.
I talked to several people from the panels and Washington Ceasefire board members one-on-one during and after the event and will report in detail with my next post.
One of the people on a panel was the CEO of Allied Biometrix. Allied Biometrix is a California based startup that is licensing commercial rights to firearms user-authenticating technology developed at the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT). He clearly understood the limitations of the technology and did not overstate the potential as some of the anti-gun people did. For example New Jersey State Senator Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg suggested the technology could have made a difference in the Sandy Hook and the Charlie Hebdo shootings. When I asked Allied Biometrix what their opinion on this was he said, “Give me a break!”
Allied Biometrix has some technology that I could see having promise in certain applications. I asked him for test result information and he requested I contact someone else for that and gave me a phone number. I called the New Jersey phone number but it was after 6:00 PM their time and the call went to voicemail. Using the name and phone number I found the contact’s email address and sent him the following:
From: Joe Huffman
Sent: Wednesday, January 28, 2015 3:23 PM
Subject: Error rates for dynamic grip recognition.
I’m a software engineer with a master’s degree in electrical engineering. When I left Pacific Northwest National Laboratories in 2005 I was a Senior Research Scientist working on biometrics.
I was at the Smart Gun Symposium today and spoke with the CEO of Allied Biometrix. He suggested I contact you to get my questions answered.
Can you give me the approximate error rates with the dynamic grip recognition technology used with firearms authentication?
I can envisions there being many ways to test this. Can you elaborate on the test methods used to arrive at the numbers you claim?
In particular claiming a 0.001 false authorization rate when testing with a single unauthorized user attempting to fire the gun 10000 times is different than testing 10000 users for one attempted false authorization each. Also, there is the matter of unauthorized users deliberately attempting to defeat the system via changing their grip versus repeatedly using it in a natural, to them, manner.
Similar issues can make the numbers for false rejection of an authorized user problematic. For example I would expect a high stress situation or injury would change authorization rate. As might hands swollen or partially numb from the cold.
Can you give me test data that would at least partially address my questions?
I would like to use any information you provide me on my blog. But if you would prefer I keep information confidential and just use general information I can respect that and would be grateful for any information you can give me.
I will have one or more posts on the symposium by the end of the day tomorrow and if my contact on the dynamic grip technology supplies extensive test data I’ll devote an entire post to that.
Dave Workman was sitting just ahead of me for the press conference (about an hour before the actual symposium) but left before the symposium started. He does have his response to the press conference here and it is something you should read.
I still have my standard question about default system failure mode. Until it’s reliable enough that the pols are mandating the cops and their own security details use it exclusively, it’s not reliable enough for me to consider using, nor reliable enough for the pols to mandate ANY civilian use it.
Imagine people who hate football wanting to mandate football equipment, people who hate woodworking trying to mandate woodworking equipment, etc. They’d be the last people you’d want near their target industry, yet it seems to be popular in some quarters. We have people in government who hate American founding principles, so why not have second amendment haters mandating gun design, PETA running mink farms and tanneries, and Muslims running pig farms and bacon production?
Who better to have in charge of something than those who want it eradicated? I think that’s becoming the new motto of government. It’s certainly been working for education.
So called “smart guns” are a piss poor solution to a problem they cannot fix.
– Suicides by the owner? No efficacy.
– Murder by the owner? No efficacy.
– Deter theft? No barrier to a thief with wire cutters, a Dremel tool, or a punch.
– Gun grab? It might work, but this is not a huge problem and is offset by the failure to fire.
– Failure to fire when you need it the most and it costs you your life. It could be due to a poor recognition mechanism, dead batteries, electronic interference (benign or intentional) or simply additional complexity. Even with a near perfect implementation of user recognition methods, the risk of dead batteries or some electronic interference/hacking/worm/governmental back door is it’s Achilles’ heel.
One simple question: Does your iPhone go dead at the most inopportune times or will it refuse to Blue Tooth pair with your device? Imagine that scenario when you life literally depends on it.
So, I view Alan Boinus like those Germans who invented the gas chamber poison, knowing that it would be misused and abused. He is culpable for it.
The only applicant which I think has merit is protection for small children in an environment where self-defense is of less concern or zero concern. I think of the loaded rifles leaning up in the corner near the door at my Uncle Alden’s house. There were there for predator control. But as small kids my brothers and I weren’t that closely supervised when visiting.
I could envision a scenario where someone uses a gun only for recreation and occasionally has their grandchild visit their small apartment. You have to remember to hid the gun and ammo in different locations when you get back from the range, put it in the safe, or put the trigger lock on it. You could get back from the range, set the gun down, and run to the bathroom and not be at risk for the child successfully firing the gun.
The risk is small, the total number of accidental shooting deaths of preteen children per year is very small, but it might make it gun ownership acceptable to more people if that option was available to them.
One thing that really struck me about the symposium was that except for a few (I think it was three) they emphasized the protection for small children application and dismissed the theft, and gun grab scenarios. And an even smaller number (one I think), opposed mandates.
While you may see it as a useful *option*, they are looking for it to be mandatory.
I’ve had a lot of experience with biometrics for access control, both hardware and software. I hope that they answer your questions but am not holding my breath.
The “it’s for the children” argument requires a mandate, because it only affects people who are too stupid to pay attention to elementary safety rules. Anyone with a functioning brain is perfectly well capable of keeping the kids safe; all that is required is locked cabinets or things like that.
So if someone claims they want it for the children, as an optional feature, changes are he is lying. Either that, or too stupid to pay attention to.
Exactly. Same goes for the bleach and other chemicals under the kitchen sink and elsewhere around the home or farm. You don’t need technology to deal with those risks, and in fact it would only make them more expensive, more complicated to use, and have other negative consequences. Have people not died for being unable to open their “child safe” medication containers?
The people working on “Smart” gun tech are doing so only with the hope that it will be mandated. It’s yet another manifestation of cronyism, i.e. using the coercive power of government for profit. If they had absolute surety that government would never require it, they’d never consider working on it, because in a free society hardly anyone would buy it and they know it. Instead they’re making the bet that government WILL require it IF they can convince the right (i.e. the most ignorant and/or evil) politicians that it “works”. It’s all about getting a piece of the coercion pie.
In that sense it is probably less of a technical problem and more of a psychosocial/marketing challenge among politicians. Ignoring all morals and principles, I’d say they’re making the right bet— Some of the most ignorant and/or evil people in the country are in fact in office or have positions of power, or have pull among those with positions of power. If they can’t peddle SG tech in the U.S. there are plenty of tin horn idiot/fool “leaders” in other countries who’d fall for it. If on the other hand they decided that making money serving their fellow man by creating things of actual use and value within the system of peaceable, voluntary exchange, they’d never get close to SG tech.
It’s all about seeing a niche and finding a way in on it. It’s just that some people are “looking for love in all the wrong places” so to speak.
Your point about different grips during moments of stress reminded me of my cell phone. Ever since voice dialing became a feature on my phones the instruction manual with the phone said to NOT use it to put 9-1-1 on it, since in your moment of need the stress would make your voice higher and so unrecognizable to your phone. I don’t think the purveyors of this snake oil have thought of that, or if they have, as Braden Lynch said, they know of the problem and how the system will respond, and anticipate its failure in self-defense situations, and are therefore culpable for those failures.
I’ll buy one as soon as it’s in common use by 51% of US police forces and the US military.
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If you don’t want one – don’t buy it. Some people say that gun makers are also like the Germans cause they make a product that kills. That’s ridiculous too.
But the whole point of this movement is to make these things mandatory. If you hear anyone saying the intent is for them to be optional, he is lying. Absolutely, positively, no question about it.
So “if you don’t want one, don’t buy it” isn’t intended to be the answer.
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I still really, REALLY, want a smart gun (or 3) for no other reason than to demo deactivating the ‘smarts’ with nothing other than wire cutters, super glue, or soldering iron.
I could see a Dremel tool and small pieces of metal being required as well.
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