Homeland Security’s ‘Pre-Crime’ Screening Will Never Work

Alexander Furnas writes in the Atlantic:

Pre-crime prevention is a terrible idea.

Here is a quiz for you. Is predicting crime before it happens: (a) something out of Philip K. Dick’s Minority Report; (b) the subject of of a Department of Homeland Security research project that has recently entered testing; (c) a terrible and dangerous idea which will inevitably be counter-productive and which will levy a high price in terms of civil liberties while providing little to no marginal security; or (d) all of the above.

If you picked (d) you are a winner!

The U.S. Department of Homeland security is working on a project called FAST, the Future Attribute Screening Technology, which is some crazy straight-out-of-sci-fi pre-crime detection and prevention software which may come to an airport security screening checkpoint near you someday soon. Yet again the threat of terrorism is being used to justify the introduction of super-creepy invasions of privacy, and lead us one step closer to a turn-key totalitarian state. This may sound alarmist, but in cases like this a little alarm is warranted. FAST will remotely monitor physiological and behavioral cues, like elevated heart rate, eye movement, body temperature, facial patterns, and body language, and analyze these cues algorithmically for statistical aberrance in an attempt to identify people with nefarious intentions. There are several major flaws with a program like this, any one of which should be enough to condemn attempts of this kind to the dustbin. Lets look at them in turn ….

Read More: Atlantic

  • Stranglehold

    JacobSloan missed the irony of someone predicting that prediction won’t work. 

    • StrangleHELD

       Glad to know that idiot trolls really don’t pay much attention to who is submitting the article, explains why they have so much time to post useless comments on a regular basis.

      • http://www.jaycob.co.nf/ Scruffy

        *cough* irony *cough* *cough*

      • Redacted

        I denounce and deny these allegations of useless trolling.

  • http://twitter.com/alizardx A.Lizard

    ” which will levy a high price in terms of civil liberties while providing little to no marginal security” and provide massive profits for crony snake-oil tech vendors with the right political connections. 

    IOW, it’ll be a great success for DHS even if it never finds a terrorist plot. 

    Yes, this is a prediction. I also predict that fresh eggs thrown hard at walls will shatter. 

  • http://www.ContraControl.com/ Zenc

    There are a number of reasons this won’t work in practice (despite whatever short lived political successes it may have).

    Supposing I were a “bad guy” I’d have a vested interest in making sure this thing suffered from false positives early and often.

    I would flat jam this system and wear the idiots down to a quivering ball of fried nerves.

    I can’t imagine that the real “bad guys” would come to a very different conclusion…

  • http://buzzcoastin.posterous.com BuzzCoastin

    >‘Pre-Crime’ Screening Will Never Work

    depends on how define “works”
    does it use a lot of government monopoly money?
    can this research be used to intimidate people?
    will it employ and therefore insure people will be loyal to the cause?
    does it give the elite more power?
    does it put civil liberties in jeopardy?

    if it does just a few of those things
    it works for the elites
    and that’s what counts

  • DeepCough

    Pre-Crime: because who needs “habeas corpus,” amirite?

  • Bungle

    guilty, until proven innocent…

  • Okarin

    the new heroes are the ones that braved through a broken system and lived to give the public a bad review of it

  • Redacted

    So how do they distinguish between the people angry about being stuck in a TSA security check line, Terrorists, and Girl Scouts?

  • http://twitter.com/VinVanZant Vin Van Zant

    I am not a criminal…certainly not dangerous, but I am quite sure I would fail these things with flying colors.

  • lightBright

    If the system was really all knowing and worked it would be a threat to every one including TPTB. So I doubt a non crippled working system of this type will ever make it.