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DHS Goes Ahead With 'Pre-Crime' Detection Project 438

Posted by Soulskill
from the somebody-warn-tom-cruise dept.
suraj.sun tips news that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has begun testing its project to predict future crimes on members of the public. The Future Attribute Screening Technology (FAST) project is "designed to track and monitor, among other inputs, body movements, voice pitch changes, prosody changes (alterations in the rhythm and intonation of speech), eye movements, body heat changes, and breathing patterns." A field test was performed at a large venue earlier this year, and documents recently obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request indicate that testing is proceeding on other members of the public as well. "It's not clear whether these people were informed that they're participating in a FAST study."
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DHS Goes Ahead With 'Pre-Crime' Detection Project

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  • Wow. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by unity100 (970058)
    would make nazi weep.
    • Re:Wow. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by GameboyRMH (1153867) <gameboyrmh@gmaiWELTYl.com minus author> on Friday October 07, 2011 @10:46AM (#37639634) Journal

      In the future this will be looked back on as being as stupid as McCarthyism. Looking for terrorists under every bed and around every corner, monitoring people's bodies for signs of terrorist intent...the terrorists have won beyond their wildest dreams. And if we examine Pearl Harbor as precedent, none of us will live to see the damage undone.

      • Re:Wow. (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Dunbal (464142) * on Friday October 07, 2011 @10:52AM (#37639742)
        No, I think if you go down this road then there is no future.
        • Technically there will always be a future (until the big crunch, at least).

        • Re:Wow. (Score:4, Funny)

          by dkleinsc (563838) on Friday October 07, 2011 @11:36AM (#37640404) Homepage

          I would not rule out the chance to preserve a nucleus of human specimens. It would be quite easy at the bottom of some of our deeper mine shafts. The radioactivity would never penetrate a mine some thousands of feet deep. And in a matter of weeks, sufficient improvements in dwelling space could easily be provided. Nuclear reactors could provide power almost indefinitely. Greenhouses could maintain plantlife. Animals could be bred and slaughtered. A quick survey would have to be made of all the available mine sites in the country. But I would guess that dwelling space for several hundred thousands of our people could easily be provided. With the proper breeding techniques and a ratio of say, ten females to each male, I would guess that they could then work their way back to the present gross national product within say, twenty years.

      • by ackthpt (218170)

        In the future this will be looked back on as being as stupid as McCarthyism. Looking for terrorists under every bed and around every corner, monitoring people's bodies for signs of terrorist intent...the terrorists have won beyond their wildest dreams. And if we examine Pearl Harbor as precedent, none of us will live to see the damage undone.

        Sorry, dude, but they're already doing that .. been doing it for years. All your email, all your telephone calls, everything you do online which can be connected to you by IP address or account activity (such as GMail, Hotmail, ATT.NET, etc.) They tracked down that Craigslist Killer pretty amazingly fast, didn't they? It's stored somewhere and the spooks can reference it fast if they decide there's a need, real or imagined.

        Even activity on such a subversive site as Slashdot is being ... hold on, doorbe

        • by Tsingi (870990)

          NO CARRIER

          That's what happens when you use dialup for subversive stuff.

          • by julesh (229690)

            NO CARRIER

            That's what happens when you use dialup for subversive stuff.

            You have to use dialup for subversive stuff. Broadband can penetrate the tinfoil hat and let the government read your mind.

            • by Tsingi (870990)

              NO CARRIER

              That's what happens when you use dialup for subversive stuff.

              You have to use dialup for subversive stuff. Broadband can penetrate the tinfoil hat and let the government read your mind.

              Ack, it's so hard to stay ahead of the curve.
              Thank you.

      • by bondsbw (888959)

        Ok, most everyone here understands the issue of privacy here.

        As devil's advocate, technology of this nature could be used to find and diagnose people with psychological issues who stay away from the doctor, or simply don't have the money to get evaluated. And this technology can be used to bring help to people before rather than after a violent incident.

        As a culture, we find that the most appropriate treatment of people who have a criminal psychosis is to isolate them and help them, forcibly. We also find

        • Re:Wow. (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Smallpond (221300) on Friday October 07, 2011 @11:30AM (#37640310) Homepage Journal

          As a culture, we find that the most appropriate treatment of people who disagree with the government is to isolate them and help them, forcibly. We also find that they are not "wrong" and don't need to be punished, but require help. I don't readily see how an act of violence in this case is a critical point where we force help on the unwilling. So, why not force it earlier and prevent the violent acts?

          FTFY

        • I don't swear very often, but the simple fact that you (apparently) think this is a reasonable point of view scares the living HELL out of me.
        • by kvezach (1199717)
          As a culture, we find that the most appropriate treatment of people who have a criminal psychosis is to isolate them and help them, forcibly. We also find that they are not "wrong" and don't need to be punished, but require help. I don't readily see how an act of violence in this case is a critical point where we force help on the unwilling. So, why not force it earlier and prevent the violent acts?

          To be a devil's advocate right back (angel's advocate?):

          The danger is that preemptive treatment of, say,
      • by dkleinsc (563838)

        This time though, unlike the Evil Communists, the Evil Terrorists can't just call it quits and screw up the whole program. That's because if Al Qaida announced, today, that "Hey everyone, we're giving up trying to attack the US", they'd just find some other group of people to call the Evil Terrorists, and all the oppressive tactics can continue unabated.

      • In the future this will be looked back on as being as stupid as McCarthyism.

        The funniest part about people referring to McCarthyism is that they do not seem to be aware that the people who actually did the things that are considered the abuses of "McCarthyism" were Democrats.

      • In the future this will be looked back on as being as stupid as McCarthyism. Looking for terrorists under every bed and around every corner, monitoring people's bodies for signs of terrorist intent...the terrorists have won beyond their wildest dreams. And if we examine Pearl Harbor as precedent, none of us will live to see the damage undone.

        Guess we should call it Neo-McCarthyism

    • So... If they don't do anything and not having clear information on who to monitor and not. They will take heat for people who commit crimes, and are not on their radar and they are inspecting people who will not commit crimes.
      Or.
      They come up with a way to profile people without personal judgement and then they they will take heat for that.

      Logically if you are going to take heat for either you might as well choose the one where the crime isn't committed.

      Life sucks doesn't it.

      • by hedwards (940851)

        The thing is that they don't profile without personal judgment because it's impossible. Profiling involves a great deal of personal judgment and training.

    • Re:Wow. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Tsingi (870990) <graham.rick@gma i l .com> on Friday October 07, 2011 @11:19AM (#37640178)

      What is interesting is that the U.S. can't afford teachers to educate their children, or health care to heal the sick, but it can spend money on pie in the sky security stuff.

      Gotta protect ourselves from the people at any cost.
      Why?
      Because we are shitting on them in a big way and they're getting riled.

  • by girlintraining (1395911) on Friday October 07, 2011 @10:46AM (#37639646)

    So what they're doing is taking variables that are innocent and legal (changing the pitch of one's voice is not an inherently criminal act), and using it to justify increased surveillance of that individual. And naturally, everyone will be okay with this because "only criminals have anything to hide".

    Everyone forgets, of course, that you don't need to be watched for very long before you break a law. It's so hopelessly complex that even lawyers, who spend several years learning about it, are unable to avoid being ensnared against a determined law enforcement effort. If they want you, they will get you. So basically, this system is selecting people to turn into criminals. There is no preventative value here... increased surveillance on anyone will eventually yield evidence that can be used for criminal prosecution.

    • So what they're doing is taking variables that are innocent and legal (changing the pitch of one's voice is not an inherently criminal act), and using it to justify increased surveillance of that individual.

      <voice class="indian_accent">I am in some serious shit now my friend...</voice>

    • by Baloroth (2370816)

      The thing is: profiling works, to some degree. People who are nervous often are hiding something. Every police officer will profile the people around them, and they should. That is how they reduce the signal-to-noise ratio. There are lots of people out there, and since you can't really be expected to casually see the criminals in the act, you need to profile them in order to pick out people who are likely to commit crimes. The TSA is actually an example of what happens when you don't: you end up strip searc

      • by girlintraining (1395911) on Friday October 07, 2011 @11:57AM (#37640700)

        People who are nervous often are hiding something.

        Warning: Pointer to NULL reference.

        Every police officer will profile the people around them, and they should.

        Error: select '*' from 'personnel' returned too many results. Warning: join of 'officer' and 'people' objects may cause undesired behavior.

        That is how they reduce the signal-to-noise ratio.

        Warning: Bad analogy in line 4.

        There are lots of people out there, and since you can't really be expected to casually see the criminals in the act...

        Compiler warning: Statement will always evaluate as true.

        you need to profile them in order to pick out people who are likely to commit crimes.

        Error in logic syntax: Affirmation of the consequent.

        The TSA is actually an example of what happens when you don't: you end up strip searching 90 year old ladies taking away their walkers (profiling works in the other direction too.)

        Error in logic syntax: Affirmation of the consequent.

        The trick is to look for people who are about to commit a major crime, and catch them in the act

        Warning: This statement will never evaluate. (off topic) Additional errors were encounted, further processing of stupid_comment.c aborted.

    • Spot on. Mod parent up. Almost everyone is guilty of some crime, be it copyright infringement, tax fraud, hate speech, or some driving felony. Heck, if the Six Degrees of Seperation hypothesis [wikimedia.org] is right you're probably close enough to some terrorist to count as a terrorist yourself.

      Everyone forgets, of course, that you don't need to be watched for very long before you break a law. It's so hopelessly complex that even lawyers, who spend several years learning about it, are unable to avoid being ensnared against a determined law enforcement effort. If they want you, they will get you.

    • It's interesting how everyone in this thread seems to assume that this technology will cause an increase in law enforcement activity. However, for agencies operating under fixed budgets, more money spent on expensive surveillance technologies means that less money will be available for payroll. That is, actual enforcement activity will actually decline as a result of adoption.

      If this detection technique improves upon existing methods for detecting criminal activity, it will result in more resources being

      • If the technology is broken, let's hope that it's rejected, but a working detection method that increases the accuracy and efficiency of law enforcement will result in increased protection of citizens' rights.

        First, hoping for anything regarding the government is a bad way to start an argument. Second, the words "accuracy" and "efficiency" regarding law enforcement are typically red flag words to indicate tyranny and oppression. "fair and impartial" is what a democratic country hopes for, not accurate and efficient.

  • Where did they find so many criminals to be able to test out these detection methods to be able to say that they work? I mean, considering that they haven't actually caught ONE terrorist yet (PS - the ones that make it onto the plane and are taken down by passengers a crew don't count). This is probably just another expensive DHS money pit. So now not only will you get cancer from going through the "super safe" scanners that have never been rated or tested for use on humans, but you might just be accused of
    • by EkriirkE (1075937)
      Everyone that walks through a US airport.
    • by MarkGriz (520778)

      Where did they find so many criminals to be able to test out these detection methods to be able to say that they work?

      Didn't you read the part in TFA where it says: refers to a "limited" initial trial using DHS employees as test subjects.

  • Hey DHS, read much? (Score:5, Informative)

    by milbournosphere (1273186) on Friday October 07, 2011 @10:47AM (#37639662)
    I REALLY hope somebody in the higher echelons of the DHS sits down to read a copy of The Minority Report by Phillip Dick. Like the movie based upon it, the story explores the implications of enacting just what the DHS is suggesting. Granted, they're using cameras and screening tech instead of pre-cogs, but IMO they are still are promoting a powerful military force to reach a similar end game. What's happening to this country?
    • by Avatar8 (748465)
      Indeed. Isn't this the point of literature, fact or fiction, for us to learn from possibilities and history so we don't make the same mistakes in "real life?"
    • by TheCarp (96830)

      They read the book and said "Well its fiction, but what a great idea". At this point, I think we have to hope they haven't read 1984 yet, it is absolutely imperative that we keep any copies of it away from those dimwits in the DHS, to allow them to get ideas from it (especially since they are likely to see it as "working out in the end").

  • So basically... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by bmo (77928) on Friday October 07, 2011 @10:48AM (#37639680)

    Anyone with outlier body problems is a suspect now.

    DHS is now waging war against the disabled

    Since the thread was already Godwinned in the first post, I'm going to say that the Nazis also did similar things to the mentally and physically disabled. It's just a jump from detecting and classifying people like this to eugenics.

    Thanks, DHS.

    Go fuck yourselves.

    --
    BMO

    • Re:So basically... (Score:4, Informative)

      by BetterSense (1398915) on Friday October 07, 2011 @11:19AM (#37640174)
      It's already a long and glorious tradition. Law enforcement routinely maintain policies that fuck over anyone outside the bell curve in any way. How many times have people been shot for "ignoring police commands"? Well if police can shoot you for ignoring them, what about deaf people? I guess they are just fucked.

      Consider these recent google hits:
      John T. Williams (shot to death for failing to respond to police commands quickly enough, deaf in one ear)
      Robert Dzieka&#324;ski (tasered to death for being Polish, apparently)
      Michelle Schreiner (tasered during a low-blood sugar attack)
      John Harmon (repeatedly tasered and beaten during a blood sugar attack).

      I'm sure all those people were "responding abnormally" which is, or soon will be, effectively illegal in itself.
      • by bmo (77928)

        Indeed. I had forgotten about those in my post.

        This will just make the killing of disabled more efficient.

        I wish I was joking.

        --
        BMO

    • by couchslug (175151)

      Positive eugenics should not be confused with Nazi pseudo-science.

      Humans already breed by choice. Positive eugenics merely expands the choices. If you can evolve by choice, why not do that?

    • Anyone with outlier body problems is a suspect now.

      DHS is now waging war against the disabled

      It's not just the diasbled, the "War on Terror" has effectively been a "War on Dignity" since practically day one.

  • The terrorists have won.
    • The terrorists have won.

      Your Thought Crime is duly noted. Please report to the Ministry of Love to answer a few questions. Bring your toothbrush.

  • There's zero chance this will work how they think it will. From a great presentation at this year's DefCon:
    Why Airport Security Can’t Be Done FAST [defcon.org]
  • I hope not. Part of the usefulness of research and trials is to avoid bias by letting your subjects know what is being tested.

    I and, however, surprised that nobody is screaming "Racial Profiling" when the system uses ethnicity as a tracking factor, unless it's used to simply filer out societal norms.

    What I find funniest is that this is EXACTLY what every law enforcement and security guard is trained in for crowd surveillance and operations. These are the clues a human looks for in determining which people m

  • If you predict that I won't do any crime, I will do it!
    Wat now bitches?
  • This is observation, and nothing more. They're just teaching a computer how to do what every good cop does.

    Call me when they find reliable precognitives; until then, don't call it pre-crime detection.

  • by wisebabo (638845) on Friday October 07, 2011 @10:57AM (#37639862) Journal

    Ok, I didn't RTFA because I want to whip this off before I go out the door but...

    Instead of the "security theater" that passes for inspections at American airports, shouldn't we be emulating the much less intrusive Israeli model? From what I understand (I admit I'm an amateur), instead of passing people through body scanners and whatnot, the Israelis use well trained people to basically talk to people entering the "sterile" zone and WATCH THEIR REACTION. I guess it almost impossible to teach someone not to show outward signs of nervousness especially if they're going to end their life by blowing themselves up (or carrying illegal drugs I suppose). The results speak for themselves, when was the last time you've heard of an Israeli airport or airplane being blown up? Don't tell me it's from lack of fanatical enemies!

    Of course, DHS' attempt to use technology instead of well trained PEOPLE could be a fatal flaw but the essential idea, of pre-screening people based on their autonomous reflexes, is not to be dismissed outright.

    • Ok, and now explain how this will get kickbacks from the buddy-companies that sell the snakeoil scanners, and how this employs people too stupid to find their own ass with both hands so they have to find yours during a "security check", we can talk.

      Seriously, you don't think the whole crap is about security, do you?

  • Now combine it with the George Clooney goat killing method. The DHS could simply step to one side and glower at the bad guys as they make their way to the terminal, telepathically forcing terrorists to simply die on the spot. I think they could demonstrate about the same success rate as the current, more invasive program we have today.
  • The Future Attribute Screening Technology (FAST) project is "designed to track and monitor, among other inputs, body movements, voice pitch changes, prosody changes (alterations in the rhythm and intonation of speech), eye movements, body heat changes, and breathing patterns

    It sounds like this is detecting signs of people's behavior changing as they sidestep their inhibitory mechanisms, or in basic terms that they're nervous doing something they know is wrong and the system is detecting their nervousness. Any ideas on how will this pre-screening work on sociopaths, who don't feel any remorse or commitment to societal morals or societal norms? Someone who doesn't experience the human inhibitory reflex? Someone with an anxiety disorder, or otherwise has a (non-criminal) reason t

  • by SirGarlon (845873) on Friday October 07, 2011 @11:04AM (#37639958)

    I have a crime predictor that boasts better than 99.9% accuracy. It always returns "not a criminal."

    Seriously, in order for utterly dystopian concept to have any benefits, you'd need a false alarm rate much lower than 0.1%. Even at .01%, for anti-terrorism applications the ratio of false alarms to actual terrorists would be something like 10,000 to 1 -- assuming it had a 100% detection accuracy, which is of course preposterous.

  • Can we use this on politicians before they are elected?

  • by ub3r n3u7r4l1st (1388939) on Friday October 07, 2011 @11:15AM (#37640116)

    we have Steve Jobs, Bob Hope and Johnny Cash. Now we have no jobs, no hope and no cash.

  • I sure hope this system will take the shape of people's heads into account when determining future criminal intent.

  • Is it the sentencing of a person for a crime not yet committed, or is it the investigation into crimes not yet committed? If it's not the latter, then this isn't really precrime, more just a potentially dodgy way of investigation.

  • But I went and ordered 24709000000 litres of concrete to fill North America. We're going to try again from scratch and see if we can do better the 2nd time.
  • The DHS is still dicking around with anti-terrorism techniques when our country's economy is being flushed down the toilet at a good rate. Soon, the US will be worthless and no terrorist in their right mind would have any interest in us. It would be akin to stepping on a mole hill.
  • by Tastecicles (1153671) on Saturday October 08, 2011 @11:54AM (#37648484)

    I will not be adjudged on a scale of "normality" against a scale drawn from the mean of a profoundly sick society.

This process can check if this value is zero, and if it is, it does something child-like. -- Forbes Burkowski, CS 454, University of Washington

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