The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was trying to predict the future.There were no psychics or crystal balls, just a battery of sensors designed to determine human intention through the subtlest of changes in heart rate, gaze, and other physiological markers. the sensors are called Future Attribute Screening Technology, or FAST, a $20 million federal project that aims to highlight airport passengers whose bodies betray hostile intentions. In theory, FAST has the potential to detect terrorists in the final minutes before they act, but critics warn that the system may have other consequences, such as flagging innocent travelers through false positives while letting some with ill intent sneak by through false negatives. About 3,000 DHS officers already roam the nation’s airports scanning for suspicious behavior and facial expressions in a program called Screening of Passengers by Observational Techniques, or SPOT.The automated FAST system is intended to supplement SPOT by catching signals that are undetectable to the naked eye. FAST is not designed to replace the decision-making of human screeners, but government officials hope it will eventually be able to passively scan airport passengers and single out those worth pulling aside for additional screening.
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Big Idea: Seeing Crime Before It Happens | DISCOVER