Thursday, January 29, 2009

MALINTENT: Homeland Security Gets Inside Your Head

"Homeland Security is now testing the next generation of security screening -- a body scanner that can read your mind," reports Allison Barrie of FOX News ("Homeland Security Detects Terrorist Threats by Reading Your Mind,", 23 Sept 2008).,2933,426485,00.html

This is no polygraph, Barrie says. Subjects do not get hooked up or strapped down for a careful reading. The machine is "like an X-ray for bad intentions," with its "series of sensors and imagers that read your body temperature, heart rate and respiration for unconscious tells invisible to the naked eye -- signals terrorists and criminals may display in advance of an attack."

Photo Credit: The Telegraph (UK)

The photo above, from the (London) Telegraph's 24 September 2008 article on MALINTENT, suggests that one simply walks through a standard scanner. But Barrie's report indicates that the experimental equipment was housed in a long trailer truck, where more than 144 (mostly unwitting) subjects were tested.

A better picture of the system may be seen in an article by Liz Hazleton of the London Daily Mail, "The Airport Security Scanner That Can Read Your Mind" (24 Sept 2008):

Hazleton says that a series of sensors, like the one shown below, read body temperature, heart rate and respiration. "Analyzed together, these factors can lead security services to potential terrorists. Any suspects are pulled aside for questioning, and then subjected to a second scan, which involves microfacial scanning."

This equipment "is able to read minute muscle movements which give further indications of criminal intent.

"So far it can read seven primary emotions and emotional clues and will eventually have equipment which can analyze body movement, an eye-scanner and a pheromone reader."

MALINTENT' has been described as the "brainchild of the cutting-edge Human Factors Division in Homeland Security's directorate for Science and Technology." It apparently uses facial scanners and body scanners, referred to as Future Attribute Screening Technology (FAST). By reading the expression on one's face and comparing that expression to other faces on a database, computers can presumably read one's mood and mental intentions.

The homepage for the DHS Directorate of Science and Technology may be found here:

An organizational overview of their Human Factors and Behavioral Sciences Division may be found at this link:

There one finds the following DHS description of the program dubbed "MALINTENT":

Homeland Innovation Prototypical Solutions - Future Attribute Screening Technology (FAST) Project

Project Manager: Bob Burns

Project Overview: The Homeland Security Advanced Research Project Agency (HSARPA) and S&T Directorate Human Factors Behavior Sciences (HFBS) Division Future Attribute Screening Technology (FAST) Project is an initiative to develop innovative, non-invasive technologies to screen people at security checkpoints. FAST is grounded in research on human behavior and psychophysiology, focusing on new advances in behavioral/human-centered screening techniques. The aim is a prototypical mobile suite (FAST M2) that would be used to increase the accuracy and validity of identifying persons with malintent (the intent or desire to cause harm). Identified individuals would then be directed to secondary screening, which would be conducted by authorized personnel. This project is part of the HFBS innovations portfolio (Homeland Security Advanced Research Project Agency Program).

No description or photo of the scanner is provided. However, we do have an image of analysts using the system, taken from the UK Daily Mail article cited above:

The DHS website offers an abundance of additional information on similar "mind reading" projects, lumped under the general heading of Hostile Intent Detection. For example:

Hostile Intent Detection – Training & Simulation Project

Project Manager: Larry Willis

Project Overview: The S&T Directorate Human Factors Behavior Sciences (HFBS) Division Hostile Intent Detection – Training and Simulation Project develops computer-based simulation to train behavior-based stand-off detection for future hostile intent using indicators from the interactive screening environment (Hostile Intent Detection – Automated Prototype) and the observational environment (Hostile Intent Detection – Validation) to support screening and interviewing interactions at air, land, and maritime portals. This project is part of the HFBS social behavioral threat analysis thrust area and suspicious behavior detection program.

Translation: DHS is funding several programs, just like MALINTENT, aimed at reading the mental intentions of individuals whose behavior is deemed "suspicious."

For further reference, see the MALINTENT Wikipedia article at this link:

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