Rio Grande de Buba, Guinea-Bissau (via A.S.I.)
Tech designed to ‘read’ body’s intent finds new life on the border
Imagine you decide to take a casual trip to Mexico, walking across the border for a day of shopping or even cheap dental care that’s not available in the United States. Upon your return, an officer from Customs and Border Protection directs you to a kiosk that looks like an ATM.
You’re instructed to press start and answer any question the machine asks. A cartoon-looking face, or avatar, appears onscreen and begins making queries in a polite, automated voice.
Are you carrying anything destructive in your bag? Has anyone given you contraband to bring into the United States? What should happen to someone who does smuggle contraband?
This Max Headroom interrogation sounds far-fetched, but just such an experiment is occurring on the border in Nogales, Ariz., using a variation of technology the Department of Homeland Security has been pursuing for years.
The avatar records the answers and forwards them to a tablet handled by one of the blue-uniformed officers. They see not just what you said but how you said it, along with a green, yellow or red “risk color,” based on your responses. Maybe you spoke faster, louder and with a higher pitch than normal for most people. Maybe you hesitated when you answered.
It’s sort of like a lie-detector test – except the government dislikes calling it that.
“We instruct the officers that nowhere is deception ever indicated,” says Aaron Elkins, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Arizona involved with the project. “But it gives them some of that feedback, things they would have observed if they had done the interview themselves.”
For now, the kiosk is being tested with applicants seeking “trusted traveler” status; these are people who agree to a background check in exchange for avoiding long daily waits at the border.
But the future could hold something different: a cluster of high-tech monitoring devices, such as special infrared cameras and microphones, attached to the ATM-like machines. As you answer the avatar’s questions, the devices assess an array of physiological reactions, including body temperature, facial expressions, the tempo and frequency of your voice, breathing patterns and more.
The technology is part of a field of research known as “credibility assessment” that seeks to capture physiological cues we give off emotionally and cognitively: the facial temperature of someone carrying false papers, the anxious posturing of a drug courier, the racing heart of a would-be terrorist.
Anonymous: scipsy NAKED, NAKED, NAKED!
Anonymous: I'm a bit of a hypochondriac, so reading your quote from Zimmer about viruses raised a little bit of fear but it raised much more excitement and intrigue. Science > fear
I really want to live in a world where more people feel that Science > Fear.
Just about wherever scientists look—deep within the earth, on grains of sand blown off of the Sahara Desert, under mile-thick layers of Antarctic ice—they find viruses. And when they look in familiar places, they find new ones. In 2009, Dana Willner, a biologist at San Diego State University, led a virus-hunting expedition into the human body. The scientists had ten people cough up sputum and spit it into a cup. Five of the people were sick with cystic fibrosis, and five were healthy. Out of that fluid, Willner and her team fished out fragments of DNA, which they compared to databases of the tens of millions of genes already known to science. Before Willner’s study, the lungs of healthy people were believed to be sterile. But Willner and her colleagues discovered that all their subjects, sick and healthy alike, carried viral menageries in their chests. On average, each person had 174 species of viruses in the lungs. But only 10 percent of those species bore any close kinship to any virus ever found before.
↳ Carl Zimmer - A Planet of Viruses
Theories are nets cast to catch what we call ‘the world’: to rationalize, to explain, and to master it. We endeavour to make the mesh ever finer and finer.
Karl Popper - The logic of scientific discovery.
The Psychopath Test | A radio documentary by This American Life
Recently we heard about this test that could determine if someone was a psychopath. So, naturally, our staff decided to take it.
The Psychopathy Checklist Revised is a psychodiagnostic tool designed by psychologist Robert Hare to assess psychopathy. The PCL-R asks questions designed to see if a person have the personality traits that scientists had consistently found in psychopaths. Here’s Hare’s list of traits of psychopaths:
- Glib and superficial charm;
- Grandiose self-worth;
- Need for stimulation or proneness to boredom;
- Pathological lying;
- Conning and manipulativeness;
- Lack of remorse or guilt;
- Shallow affect;
- Callousness and lack of empathy;
- Parasitic lifestyle;
- Poor behavioral controls;
- Promiscuous sexual behavior;
- Early behavior problems;
- Lack of realistic, long-term goals;
- Failure to accept responsibility for own actions;
- Many short-term marital relationships;
- Juvenile delinquency;
- Revocation of condition release;
- Criminal versatility.
"What are the practical applications?" Is one of the dumbest questions you could ask.
Those among us who are unwilling to expose their ideas to the hazard of refutation do not take part in the scientific game.
↳ Karl Popper - The Logic of Scientific Discovery, p.280.
I know of no time in human history where ignorance was better than knowledge.