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IBM Patenting Airport Profiling Technology 129

Posted by Soulskill
from the now-we-can-all-be-potential-terrorists dept.
An anonymous reader writes "InformationWeek's Wolfe's Den reports that IBM has filed a dozen applications to patent a sophisticated airport security system which supports passive software-based profiling of potentially dangerous passengers off of pre-programmed rules. The setup uses a collection of sensors — video, motion, biometric and even olfactory — in terminals and around the airport perimeter, to supply raw data. 'These patents are built on the inference engine, which [analyzes sensor data and] has the ability to calculate very large data sets in real time,' says co-inventor Roger Angell. A small grid of networked computers delivers the necessary processing power. Two applications go one better than Israeli-style security, analyzing furtive glances to detect, according to the title of the patent application, 'Behavioral Deviations by Measuring Eye Movements,' as well as measuring respiratory patterns."
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IBM Patenting Airport Profiling Technology

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  • Patents (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    The new whipping boy that SCO has fallen off the narrow /. radar. Hoo-freaking-ray!!!

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by jhoegl (638955)
      SCO? Didnt they go bankrupt or something?
      Talk about a company that sold fear....
  • Second Post (Score:3, Funny)

    by Ethanol-fueled (1125189) * on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @10:59AM (#30820042) Homepage Journal
    TFS:

    Two applications go one better than Israeli-style security, analyzing furtive glances to detect, according to the title of the patent application, 'Behavioral Deviations by Measuring Eye Movements,'

    Ever vigilant against the dog with the shifty eyes. [youtube.com]

    • by cayenne8 (626475)
      So, to have fun and really 'skew' the system's profiles...we should all be doing "Silly Walks" [youtube.com], wearing shades at all times....panting, and I'm not sure right now what to try to 'smell' like....
    • by tuxgeek (872962)

      analyzing furtive glances to detect, according to the title of the patent application, 'Behavioral Deviations by Measuring Eye Movements,' as well as measuring respiratory patterns

      Just great!
      Now they can profile people that are deathly afraid of flying (like my brother) and further traumatize them, profiling them as terrorists and treating them as such.

      Why don't they just stick to the old reliable method of profiling: Young male non US citizen, buying ticket with cash, one way to America, NO LUGGAGE, origin

      • by jhoegl (638955)
        Because your method wouldnt cost as much.
        Welcome to United States of Corporate America.
      • by mea37 (1201159)

        As a person with a natural nystagmus, I'm skeptical of profiling based on eye movements. However, for you to assume that their profiling technique will generate a false positive on anyone afraid of flying - especially when you have no idea what patterns of eye movement they're looking for - is nonsense. Trying to predict specific failure modes for security theater is one of the more ironic failures of debating technique I can think of.

        Your profiling method is less expensive, but it is not more reliable as

    • by emilper (826945)

      So, they will arrest Aspies, agoraphobics and, well, people that forgot to bring their glasses ... not to forget those flying economy class for 14 hours, who will definitely behave in bizarre ways until the blood returns to their feet.

  • This sucks (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Em Emalb (452530)

    The need for this just appalls me. Hate it. It's amazing what a small group of "dedicated" people can do with a few airplanes.

    I feel horribly for the loss of life, but I can't imagine those terrorists ever expected it to get this far.

    Stupid.

    • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

      by Hognoxious (631665)

      The need for this just appalls me. Hate it. It's amazing what a small group of "dedicated" people can do with a few airplanes.

      Smell the coffee. There isn't any need for it.

      Even if there were, this isn't the solution. This has boondoggle written all over it.

      • Re: (Score:1, Flamebait)

        by Em Emalb (452530)

        While I agree with you, apparently a lot of people out there are still scared to death. It doesn't matter that you can hit them with facts and statistics until you're blue in the face, they apparently "need" for the government to look like it's doing something to solve the issue.

        That's why I say it's a need.

        The sheep are still scared, over something that happened almost 10 years ago.

        Tragic.

        • by shabtai87 (1715592) on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @11:27AM (#30820434)
          Yes of course, because no one tried to blow up a plane in the past month or so.... nobody ever gets past security with explosives and needs to be stopped by on board passengers ever....
          • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

            by ViViDboarder (1473973)
            Haha, exactly! Really? No need? Yea, sure. there is no need for extensive screening if you do not care about safety. Sure. You're absolutely right. You don't NEED to live. The rest of us will get by just fine.

            The fact that there are still attempts for people to bring explosives and other weapons on airplanes and the fact that some do make it on should be reason that we need to have screening. The fact that there have been no actual deaths is just testement to the fact that the screening is WORKIN
            • The system works? (Score:4, Informative)

              by wsanders (114993) on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @11:49AM (#30820712) Homepage

              Maybe the system works? When was the last time anyone heard of an attack on an El Al airplane?

              And that the latest perp succeeded only in catching his pants on fire, points to some success. If there were no three-ounce rule, or no even haphazard searches, he wouldn't have bothered with the explosive underwear and instead just packed some C4 in his backpack.

              • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

                by ViViDboarder (1473973)
                I don't think you're arguing with me, but just to be clear:

                I do think the system right now works, but it can always work better. I firmly believe that things can always be made to work better.

                That holds true for terrorist too. They can always come up with better and better ways to hide things. The thing is there is very little they can do about people getting nervous about their impending death as they prepair to blow themselves up. It's a great place to try and pick out people from the crowd and we
                • by aarenz (1009365)
                  I feel sorry for the people that are already deathly afraid of flying since they will be the ones taken aside and questioned and further searched before getting on the plane. It will surely reduce air travel and thus reduce the number of people at risk.

                  I think random searches will be about as effective as what is done today. Security checkpoints are just a warm fuzzy for people traveling. I could still get guns onto an airplane if there was enough motivation to do so. The attacks from long ago now could
                  • by !coward (168942)

                    Hey, why don't we just ground all commercial planes indefinitely? That is guaranteed to stop all attacks on commercial aviation.

                    No, really.. I'm not joking (not entirely, at least). That's the only way to solve the problem for good. Of course, terrorists would just move on to other targets (like they did in London and Madrid), but that's besides the point. Actually, come to think of it, how much did they beef up security in London and Madrid after the attacks? I don't doubt they did, but to the point of ins

                    • by mpe (36238)
                      Hey, why don't we just ground all commercial planes indefinitely? That is guaranteed to stop all attacks on commercial aviation.

                      N.B. This would mean all commercial planes. Remember that FedEx 705 was a freighter.

                      That's the only way to solve the problem for good. Of course, terrorists would just move on to other targets (like they did in London and Madrid), but that's besides the point. Actually, come to think of it, how much did they beef up security in London and Madrid after the attacks? I don't doubt
                  • by mpe (36238)
                    I think random searches will be about as effective as what is done today.

                    They'd probably be more effective. But more people would kick up a fuss when they saw someone "obviously not a terrorist" being searched.

                    Spend the money on tracking people down before they get to the airport.

                    It makes more sense to spend money on basic law enforcement detective work. Concentrating on aviation means that you have no chance of catching the terrorist who's planning on gunning down someone in a church.
                • by digitig (1056110) on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @12:28PM (#30821300)

                  but it can always work better.

                  I agree, but we need to be careful about how we define "better". Security specialists will tend to define "better" as "more secure", no matter what happens to convenience or civil liberties. Passengers are more likely to consider "better" to be "more convenient", although they will want security to be adequate. Livertarians are likely to consider "better" to be "more liberty" or "more equality", with less regard for convenience or security. "Better" might be a case of finding a balance between conflicting interests that is more acceptable to the population as a whole, but in general it will be improving one or more criteria without significant detriment to the others.

                  The issue with profiling is what happens to the innocent that unfortunately match a profile. They are likely to be significantly inconvenienced, and the more we trust the profiling the worse it is likely to get for the false positives. The usual tendency of civilisation is to spread risk more evenly (eg, insurance) as well as reducing it. Unless it is extraordinarily well implemented, profiling goes against that trend, making things better for the majority but making things very much worse for an unlucky few.

                  • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

                    Livertarians are likely to consider "better" to be ...

                    ... with onions.

                  • by mpe (36238)
                    I agree, but we need to be careful about how we define "better". Security specialists will tend to define "better" as "more secure", no matter what happens to convenience or civil liberties.

                    Actual security specialists understand that the idea of "more secure" means less "convenience" or less "civil liberties" is a false dichotomy. This position is more likely to come from political groups or salesmen of "screening machines".

                    The issue with profiling is what happens to the innocent that unfortunately matc
                    • by digitig (1056110)

                      Actual security specialists understand that the idea of "more secure" means less "convenience" or less "civil liberties" is a false dichotomy.

                      The best of them do, yes. But I have attended aviation security working groups, and can assure you that not all of them do.

                    • Actual security specialists understand that the idea of "more secure" means less "convenience" or less "civil liberties" is a false dichotomy. This position is more likely to come from political groups or salesmen of "screening machines".

                      (S)he's not saying they're opposites. (S)he's saying that security experts won't care about convenience or liberties. There are some changes that could be made to current TSA behavior that would clearly increase security at a clear detriment to both convenience and liberty -- (s)he is saying that security experts would tend to favor those ideas if no other ideas produced similar or better levels of security.

              • Yeah and maybe my magical anti-white-raven crystal works. Because I never saw a white raven in my life!

                In other news: Bread causes terrorism! 100% of all terrorists ate bread, in the 24 hours before committing a act of terrorism.

            • Yea, sure. there is no need for extensive screening if you do not care about safety. Sure. You're absolutely right. You don't NEED to live. The rest of us will get by just fine.

              I wasn't aware the subject of the article was screening in general. It looked to me like it was about some magic (and no doubt expensive) uber brain that its retarded operators will no doubt assume is infallible and omniscient.

              Call me eccentric, but when something is mentioned as the major subject of the article, that's usually the

        • Re:This sucks (Score:5, Interesting)

          by locallyunscene (1000523) on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @11:49AM (#30820710)
          Security in airports isn't inherently a bad thing, but to quote the internet "ur doin it wrong".

          Israel has been dealing for this threat on a much higher level for years. It's not as hassle free a solution as no security, but the wait times are substantially less, and success substantially better than America's Funniest Security Theater.

          Thanks to the ./er who I saw this from first(sorry I don't remember who you are).
          Israelification of American Airports [thestar.com]
          • Thanks for sharing that link. My gut reaction is "Israelification" sounds nice but may not be simple to implement by throwing money at the problem.
            Air travel in the US is far more complex than in Israel for many reasons. Among them a population which flies far less frequently, and the fact that there's really only one large international airport, and it's nothing like the huge open shopping malls we call airports here in the States and in Europe. In Israel security often comes before all else, which is s

          • by 0123456 (636235)

            Israel has been dealing for this threat on a much higher level for years. It's not as hassle free a solution as no security, but the wait times are substantially less, and success substantially better than America's Funniest Security Theater.

            Have you ever actually flown from an Israeli airport? Because I don't know how anyone who has could be claiming they're so wonderful, or imagine for a moment that Americans would put up with an Israeli-style grilling from minimum-wage TSA employees with a chip on their shoulder.

            • imagine for a moment that Americans would put up with an Israeli-style grilling from minimum-wage TSA employees with a chip on their shoulder.

              That's the root of the problem isn't it? Airport security is sold to the lowest bidder here while Israel is using its well trained military force. If a country that actually needs its military to protect its borders is sparing troops for this, why the hell can't we?

              No, the major hurdle would be that this would be slapped with "socialism" because it's during Obama's administration. Nevermind the Department of Homeland Security, which was really Bush's stimulus package.

            • imagine for a moment that Americans would put up with an Israeli-style grilling from minimum-wage TSA employees with a chip on their shoulder.

              We tolerate our grandmothers being molested by these goons. I think a 25 second grilling would be far more preferable.

          • by mpe (36238)
            Israel has been dealing for this threat on a much higher level for years.

            Most other countries havn't been warzones for decades.

            It's not as hassle free a solution as no security, but the wait times are substantially less, and success substantially better than America's Funniest Security Theater.

            Wasn't security at Schipol provided by an Israeli company?
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by benjfowler (239527)

      That's completely fine in my book.

      The terrorists can and will do absolutely everything to hurt and destroy the dirty white kuffars, including expending their own lives, and we respond by doing what we do best -- innovating and working hard. Eventually, even their mindless hatred and disregard for their own lives will be utterly crushed by our economic and technological strength, and like the original Zealots before the Romans 2000 years ago, they'll be but a pathetic historical footnote.

      Even so, this is an

    • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

      by mcgrew (92797) *

      The terrorists won when our cowardly politicians did exectly what the terrorists wanted us to do. Haiti should tell you that nature can do far more damage than any terrorist. Terrorism doesn't make flying more dangerous; despite flying's great safety record, there are far more airliner catastrophes cause by weather, human error, and equipment failure.

      Security theater does nothing to make you safer, and that's all they have at the airports -- theater. There is no need for this.

    • We still don't jump at every unattended suitcase though one day we will need to. The day when a car parked in the wrong spot becomes an issue. No, we got it easy.

      The simple facts are that your more likely to die of natural causes or from a car accident in the US than terrorism. The terrorist just want you to think otherwise and are more than willing to try. So of course we need a computer/software to do this surveillance for us because then we can divorce ourselves from the feeling we are picking on pe

    • by whovian (107062)

      The need for this just appalls me. Hate it. It's amazing what a small group of "dedicated" people can do with a few airplanes.

      Funny, an analogous statement occurs to me when thinking about our federal elected officials.

    • IBM did a great job for Germany in the 1930's and 40's with their control grid. Imagine what they can do for us today!

      • Apparently Today's IBM Management is not so perfect. From the 1st article cited

        Angell also said that he's no longer with IBM. "I was laid off last year along with thousands of other people," he told me. Angell is currently teaching a computer science course at a community college in Salt Lake City, Utah, where he lives. I was flabbergasted, wondering how Big Blue could let go a guy like this, who obviously has heavy duty data-analysis chops and is behind such seemingly important technology.

        Only IBM Managem

  • You cannot have such stupid mechanisms to detect terrorist activity at airports. At best, you can use them to support other mechanisms. Like as an example maybe to reduce the number of people you want people to go under the scanner. I am sure with patents published online, someone can figure out a way to beat the detection. IMHO, at airports we should use scanners to detect drugs/chemicals/weapons etc. Everything else must come before granting visa like performing a thorough background check !!
    • Yeah, the signal to noise ratio would be through the roof if you just scan everyone.
    • I'm pretty sure they won't shoot you on sight if you look around too suddenly. That said, this is one case where the only truly informative test is a full body scan. If the cold war spy revelations have taught us anything, even background checks can fail. In the SNR formulation, this is the exact situation i would rather have excess false positives than a single missed detection...
      • by Stooshie (993666)
        Even if you were the false positive and given an all over body search?
    • Gosh darnit, you're right! All a terrorist would have to do is groom himself, wear deodorant, take some muscle relaxants, and inject the guy in front of them with a shot of testosterone to avoid all suspicion!
    • Profiling (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Every last terrorist who has ever tried to hijack a US airplane has one thing in common: they are Arabs, they are Islamic, and they have brown to light brown skin. Why do we not give extra scanning etc. to people who fit this description as a matter of policy? So why are we stopping little old ladies and inspecting their bags? Why is profiling so wrong when we did not choose this enemy and cannot help that they all have so much in common that makes them so identifiable?
      • There have been plenty of US aircraft hijackers who were not Arabs, Muslim, or with light brown to brown skin. Hijacking aircraft to Cuba was almost a running joke in my youth. Similarly, there have been plenty of terrorists in the US not matching that description, including the guy behind the second most lethal terrorist incident in US history.

      • by mdwh2 (535323)

        So why are we stopping little old ladies and inspecting their bags?

        So what about a little old lady who has the wrong colour skin - where does she fit into your model?

        Profiling is easy to support, all the while you're not the one being profiled.

        Of course I have no idea about anything about you, as you post anonymously. But consider, I'm from the UK. Supposing the US noted that several previous attempts have been made by people who previously spent time in the UK, and therefore decided to give all UK citizen

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I thought the Israeli "trick" were these long interviews face-to-face by trained humans looking you right in the eye.

    I doubt 2 pieces of software are better than a trained human.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @11:54AM (#30820790)

      Yes, in my experience flying El Al, that "trick" works splendidly. Particularly when the interview is conducted by a gun-toting human under the watchful eye of other gun-toting humans.

      They've lightened up a bit in recent decades, but 40 years ago airport security in some parts of the world was serious stuff. Flying into Israel, at the check-in counter security required all passengers to check *all* of their baggage and carry-ons before proceeding to the boarding area - which was actually a large room opening to the apron where the aircraft waited. Passengers arrived in that room to find all of their baggage in neat rows on the floor where bomb-sniffing dogs were inspecting it. Oh, and there were more humans with guns.

      Each passenger when called had to claim his/her baggage and then proceed with it to a station where it was searched while the passenger was carefully watched. From there to the apron. When all of the baggage and all of the people were on the apron, then the baggage was loaded on the plane. But not until then. Anything left behind in the boarding room meant that everybody had to stand with their baggage on the apron until it was claimed and accounted for.

      By the time people actually got on the airplane they'd been interviewed once at check-in with their baggage and carry-ons then taken away from them, then scrutinized before entering the boarding room, then scrutinized while claiming their baggage after dogs had sniffed it, then scrutinized again while taking their baggage was being searched, and then scrutinized one more time before actually getting on board.

      Made you feel reasonably certain that nothing was going to happen on the plane.

      • Ha! That's nothing. According to TFA, we're going to look at everything

        "[Data processing parses the data to form attributes.] Attributes may include an individual's age, make and/or model of a vehicle, color of a hat, breed of a dog, sound of an engine, a medical diagnosis, a date of birth, a color, item of clothing, walking, talking, running, a type of food eaten, an identification of an item purchased.

        An attribute that is an event may include eating, smoking, walking, jogging, walking a dog, carryin

        • There's a doggy pound by the airport at JFK... Maybe adopting a dog reflects positively, making them less of a threat? most people i know who adopt dogs are pretty nice people!
  • The setup uses a collection of sensors -- video, motion, biometric and even olfactory

    "Hey guys! This dude smells like Garry Kasparov!"
    • by JWSmythe (446288)

          Maybe they'll put the olfactory sensors to good use, and make sure folks have at least showered before they fly. There's nothing like sitting beside someone who hasn't showered in a week, for an 8 hour flight. Ick.

         

      • by Rogerborg (306625)
        Basically, you want to ground Richard Stallman? Don't be hating on our GNUru, you shill!
        • by JWSmythe (446288)

              No offense intended to the Stallman, but if he stinks, I don't want to sit beside him. I guess some people have a fetish for things unwashed, but I'm not one of them.

    • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

      by mcgrew (92797) *

      Those old factories smell bad, don't they?

  • I think I'll just drive or take Amtrak.
    • by Syberz (1170343)

      I think I'll just drive or take Amtrak.

      Which begs the question: Why do terrorists insist on blowing up airplanes?

      If my goal was to instill fear and a high body count, I'd just wear an explosive ladden vest and sit in the first car of the longest passenger train that I can find OR wrap said explosives in nails and wait in line at a concert OR ride a ferry OR catch the premiere of a blockbuster movie/opera/theatrical production in the largest theater that I can find and the list goes on...

      Sure, the security theater that's going on now isn't doing

      • As soon as this happens and the Northeast Corridor into NYC gets held up, our economy is screwed.

      • by mpe (36238)
        Which begs the question: Why do terrorists insist on blowing up airplanes?
        If my goal was to instill fear and a high body count, I'd just wear an explosive ladden vest and sit in the first car of the longest passenger train that I can find


        Be far more effective to deliberatly cause a derailment

        OR wrap said explosives in nails and wait in line at a concert

        A terrorist called David Copeland used nail bombs in london in 1999, but he wasn't a "suicide bomber" nor was Ted Kaczynski. Kaczynski was known as t
  • Must be funny........

    1. Latch on to terrorism like a limpet.
    2. Patent method relating to supposedly fighting said terrorism.
    3. ???
    4. Profit!

    It sounds like a useless system with a ton of false positives possible whilst the people who should be under suspicion get away. The dodgy people with something to hide learnt how to defeat this kind of system long ago, and it'll be even worse with an automated system with little to new human intervention (bad idea for this sort of thing by the way). You just s
    • The last guy who tried this (underwear bomber) was not a seasoned veteran of the terrorism wars. He was a young recruit. If you notice, these aren't exactly repeatable missions, meaning majority of the people who should be under suspicion are probably amateurs: the exact type of people who could be detected, despite additional false positives.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by ViViDboarder (1473973)
        I think there are very few seasoned veterans of suicide bombing...

        Also, I believe this is meant to be used to ASSIST actual people at checkpoints. It can't hurt to have an additional system help pick out suspicious people. Humans can only look at one person at a time as they walk by but the machine can keep a close eye on EVERYONE. What about people that try to get by the humans at the checkpoint and are worked up and nervous but then take a deep breath and regain their composure when they get close t
        • by Rogerborg (306625)

          Heck, I was patted down the last two times I went through security and it barely took a minute.

          Apparently you bought a season ticket for a box at the Security Theatre. You do realise that the pat-down is competely, utterly useless at finding anything harmful, right? Until they start cupping your balls and telling you to cough, it's just a big fat waste of your time, designed to make you feel safer, while doing nothing at all to make you safer.

          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by ViViDboarder (1473973)
            Haha, yea. I realize that. I think people are smarter than keeping a weapon just tucked into their pants, but to anyone watching they don't know how well anyone is going to be patted down. Just the fact that they are stopping people is good because it just lets people know they are taking extra care to check people out. Some people more than others I guess.
            • by Rogerborg (306625)
              But they're not taking "extra care". They're taking minimal case. Do you really not understand that it's just a performance?
  • Is back! New and improved.
    • by DeadDecoy (877617)
      Must ... not ...Godwin forum ... but sooo tempting. Does it count as Godwin if it's relevant?
  • by Anonymous Coward

    after all, didn't they provide sophisticated technology for efficiently tracking and "managing" people who were not like the ordinary folks to a certain German government in the past ?

    • This is different. The people we are fighting aren't financiers and artisans like the Jews in Europe were -- they have nothing to go for them, morally, economically or otherwise.

  • Olfactory? (Score:2, Funny)

    by macintard (1270416)
    I suppose eating Chipotle before boarding a flight *could* be considered terrorism...
    • I suppose eating Chipotle before boarding a flight *could* be considered terrorism...

      Even since the airlines stopped providing service, I hit one of the many "bistros" in the concourse and take on a large bowl of chili or some roast beast affair, and at least 2 pints of Bud, maybe a shot. Onboard, I pop open a crudité in a Rubbermaid, full of brok-oh-lie, radishes, celery, and cauliflower, with a big cup-o-ranch. Then I move on to a deli sandwich made at home or picked up along the way in. To finish it off, I try to pick up some spicy tuna rolls. Let's see them try to classify my gas a

  • by Assmasher (456699) on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @11:24AM (#30820396) Journal

    ...(if granted) never stand up in court unless something truly novel was listed because this sort of 'data fusion' has been going on in the security industry for the past 10 years.

    There is a very specific reason you will only see this sort of 'product' in testing for the next 10 years - 'false positives.' That's a very very important phrase in the security industry because software based solutions are supposed to act as force multipliers (although historically they're used to reduce forces in order to lower costs through automation, not to augment it) and if you've a high 'false positive' rate (as ALL of these behavioral analysis systems do) you actually impede normal security operations. Research in this area of physical security is active and ongoing, but veyr unlikely to produce anything usable except in very specific scenarios (objects left behind, loitering, et cetera.)

    • I agree and disagree at the same time. I worked on a similar stillborn project named AMISS (Advanced Material Information and Security System) fourteen years ago at a government lab designed to protect theft of nuclear material. There was a particular system from EDS called Sentinel used to identify intrusion and was used in places like rail yards. For a particular use case the false positive rate was staggeringly high and users quickly learned to ignore the alerts.

      However, when we used our data fusi

      • by Assmasher (456699)

        Well, up until 2 years ago I was the software architect for a software company (bought by SIEMENS 3 years ago) that did nothing but sensor fusion and I can tell you that false positives are the entire roadblock to deploying production solutions. We had tons of great demos - that if you happened to match the scenario requirements you could use, unfortunately those perfect fits were rare. The software was still valuable, but gathering useful metrics and or discerning an 'alarm' condition with behavioral ana

        • by yerM)M (720808)
          I'm in complete agreement with you if the goal is near 100% automation, false positives are maddening and prohibitive as I mentioned with the Sentinel system. And I will also say that our goals were quite different than yours appear to be. We didn't expect very good false positive rates, but we had quite good false negative rates. However, the main aspect was that we did use the sensor fusion date to guide checkpoint interrogations.

          You will note that the best scoring criteria for our data fusion was w

          • by Assmasher (456699)

            Agreed. Sadly using the cameras to monitor hotspots is the fate of many a multi-million dollar camera system (just ask the US Border Patrol, lol.)

  • This is insane. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by flajann (658201) <flajann@@@linuxbloke...com> on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @11:31AM (#30820472) Homepage Journal
    There is bound to be a high false positive rate with this system. Out of millions of people that will be profiled by this system per day, how many actual terrorist are there? Perhaps one or two a year?

    Would actual terrorists behave or have other characteristics all that different that would definitively distinguish them from millions of others? I don't think so.

    So really, in their efforts to find a needle in a haystack, many innocent people are going to be harassed.

    Also, also with the needle in the haystack issue, I don't see this system effective in catching all actual terrorists, since they will be doing their best to "blend in" with the crowd and not stick out anyway.

    So expect to have high failure rates of both type 1 and type 2 natures.

    And so, the billions of dollars to deploy this system is justified how?

    Not to mention all the civil rights issues with the government monitoring your biometrics without your consent or knowledge. Who knows what will be done with the data, and how it may affect you in the future? There are expectations of privacy violations here, which will be fought out in the courts.

    Meanwhile, another "terrorist" will go "BOO", and you'll see hearings and blame-pointing and everything else at why this high-tech expensive system failed to catch the needle in a very big haystack "terrorist".

    And now I am about to cause the paranoid US to spend billions more: BOO.

    • by Rogerborg (306625)
      Terrowhats? This is designed to identify stoners and bail jumpers who could be making money for Incarceration Incorporated, not The Terrorists. There's no money in that.
    • by 0123456 (636235)

      Would actual terrorists behave or have other characteristics all that different that would definitively distinguish them from millions of others? I don't think so.

      Well, they're expecting to be introduced to their 72 virgins in a few hours, so I'd expect that you could just look for guys wandering around with a big smile on their face.

  • A device claimed to “smell” snake oil [newstechnica.com] is being marketed as identifying terrorists by detecting “snake pheromones” in sweat.

    “The challenge lies in the characterisation and identification of the specific chemical that gives away the signature of complete bollocks,” said project leader Professor Tong Sun of City University, “especially the fear of losing funding for security theatre. If we can reliably detect this fear, we should be able to land some eyewateringly lucrative contracts in the very near future.”

    The research is funded by the Home Office. “The project relies on a government with a firm commitment to policy-based science, but the Tories look as craven over David Nutt’s firing as Labour, so we should be coining it in for a good while yet.”

    The technology will assist airport security officers in picking out suitable subjects. Sensors can reliably detect if someone is a bit brown, or a bit foreign-looking, or has a non-Anglo-Saxon name, or if they might be thinking of giving cheek to security officers. It will work in conjunction with the millimetre-wave “naked” radar, currently used to identify terrorist subjects with large breasts.

    The false positive rate will be only 5% on a terrorist detection rate of 1 in 100,000, meaning only 99.95% of subjects flagged will be a complete waste of time to finger up the arse with a latex glove. “But we’re sure the government will agree that mere statistical evidence is meaningless in the face of the vital necessity to send the right message,” said Prof Sun, “that if you make trouble the government will quite literally forcibly fuck you in the arse until you bleed. So just shut the fuck up and keep giving us money.”

  • They would be better off patenting application of science to everyday problems (beware not to forget) by use of a computing device.

    On a side note, I am sure that these 'see thru' scanner pictures [slashdot.org] will be part of the game, as I anticipated [slashdot.org].

    CC.
  • I am left wondering where they are going to find some bonafide terrorists to calibrate their setup.

  • "Our machines have determined that you are a security risk. Our machines aren't capable of stating any reason, so there is nothing you can point to to clear yourself. Our machines just have a hunch, a gut feeling based on their heuristics and rules. We can tell you what the heuristics and rules are, but not how applying them led to your identification as a security risk. You can cross-examine the people who wrote those rules in court, and they will testify that the code contains no known bugs, but you canno

    • by Kozz (7764)

      "So, tell me about your mother..."

      It seems that many of us would be more comfortable with a brief Voight-Kampff styled interview rather than all the mechanical inspections of one kind or another. Just as when entering the US from abroad, a generally friendly (but scrutinizing) officer will ask you a few questions about your reasons for travel -- not because he/she wants to know the answers, but because they are generally trying to divine through your behavior whether you may be some kind of thread.

  • Well, when I read "airport profiling" I thought how convenient it would be to be able to avoid all the suspicious airports during my travels. A profile of airport conditions would be nice to have.

    I mean, seriously, that's what it's coming down to. How can I minimize the risk of undue and irrational harassment while en route to my destination? As it is, I try to avoid travel through the United States entirely, and that's a shame, because it's a nice place once you get away from all the people waving gu
  • Seriously, I wonder if just the Voight-Kampff test after being given a set of questions, when cross-referenced could detect terrorists. Domestic or Foreign terrorists have to be so programmed / screwed up to not have many human responses left inside.

  • by tekrat (242117)

    There's a brilliant demonstration of this system in the first 30 minutes of the movie ROBOCOP. As you can see, the terrorist was correctly identified and eliminated as a threat. There were no glitches or errors of any kind and the project was a complete success.

  • Behavioral Deviations by Measuring Eye Movements

    Prior art - see Voight-Kampff.

    • Behavioral Deviations by Measuring Eye Movements

      Prior art - see Voight-Kampff.

      If you think that anything could be prior art based solely on the title of an application, then you probably just disqualified yourself from discussing patents.

  • ...unless they also manage to watch for people that are furtively scratching their crotches. Only a crotch-bomber would ever do such a thing.

    They might get a few false positives from baseball players, though. Crotch-bombers and baseball players.

    And maybe guys. Crotch-bombers and baseball players and guys. Then they're all set.
  • I think more airport profiling is a good thing. Remember the utterly broken baggage handling system at the Denver airport? Profiling would have caught this earlier. Or the airport that always seems to have a trick up its sleeve? Again, profiling would have caught this airport before it even was allowed to put down its runways. Sure, airport profiling might result in some racial profiling, like whether it was made by this or that construction company, but this can be managed.

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