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Creepy Airport Facial Recognition Automatically Detects Lying

September 7, 2011 at 4:10 PM | by | ()

How creepy this story gets depends on how long you keep reading. Facial recognition software is already pretty much here to stay. Scientists and engineers have made such huge strides that computers can scan your face and call up your Facebook profile. That means they've created not only the hardware to "look" at your face and read its key features, but also that they know how to efficiently translate those features and store them in a database.

Now programmers have taken the next step and figured out not only how to detect faces, but how to automatically detect emotions on those faces. And since the world is what it is, that technology is already on its way to an airport security system near you.

In a broad sense the technology is designed to detect emotions across the spectrum: agitation, excitement, happiness, sadness, whatever. The upshot from a security perspective is that it can function as a de facto automatic lie detector. High definition video cameras pick up on twitches and eye movements, thermal imaging cameras read temperature changes, and everything adds up to whether someone is trying to lie.

Some airport in Britain - officials haven't bothered to reveal which one—is about to get these upgraded machines. The system only works 60-70 percent of the time, so right now they're going to function as a kind of a screen at passport and customs. If the machines think someone is lying that person will get pulled aside for further scrutiny. Creepy but nothing too bad.

But consider how TSA is moving toward Israeli-style security—which involves throwing personal questions at passengers to trip them up—and you get a sense for where this technology is heading. Oh - and on our side of the Atlantic the Defense Department is also working on the same technology, except it's handheld. We're not too far away from the day where an agent questions you while a machine watches you from above, and both of them know who you are and exactly what you're thinking. Good times, right?

[Photo: Daily Mail]

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