“Pre-crime” terrorist detector field tested in US

precrimeThe US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has completed a first round of field-testing on a program designed to spot people who intend to commit a terrorist act. Future Attribute Screening Technology (FAST) was employed at an undisclosed location in the northeast, according to Nature News. FAST measures a wide variety of physiological indicators, from the steadiness of a person’s gaze to their heart rate, to judge a subject’s state of mind. FAST differs substantially from the polygraph, however. It relies on non-contact sensors, so it can measure indicators as someone walks through a corridor at an airport.

The project has drawn comparisons to the science-fiction concept of “pre-crime”, made famous in the film Minority Report, in which security services are able to detect criminal intentions. FAST has attracted criticism from researchers who question the science underlying it. “No scientific evidence exists to support the detection or inference of future behaviour, including intent,” declares a 2008 report prepared by the JASON defence advisory group. ~ Nature News, May 27, May 26 2010

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