Thursday, January 05, 2006

Mad scientists:

THE US Department of Defense has revealed plans to develop a lie detector that can be used without the subject knowing they are being assessed. The Remote Personnel Assessment (RPA) device will also be used to pinpoint fighters hiding in a combat zone, or even to spot signs of stress that might mark someone out as a terrorist or suicide bomber.

In a call for proposals on a DoD website, contractors are being given until 13 January to suggest ways to develop the RPA, which will use microwave or laser beams reflected off a subject's skin to assess various physiological parameters without the need for wires or skin contacts....

Because these parameters are the same as those assessed by a polygraph lie detector, the DoD claims the RPA will also indicate the subject's psychological state: if they are agitated or stressed because they are lying, for example. So it will be used as a "remote or concealed lie detector during prisoner interrogation"....

Never mind the fact that, as a polygraph examiner points out in the article, you can't do an effective lie-detector examination without the knowledge of the subject -- the technology just doesn't work. Not to worry -- we'll wave the DoD lie-detector machine in the general direction of someone with olive-colored skin and a beard and if the right readouts come up, presto! It's rendition time. Or not, as we see fit. Whether it works properly or not.


(Somewhat related: this story posted by Steve Gilliard, in which an Office of Naval Research scientist says, "I'd like to be able to pick the terrorist out. I'd like a detector 'tricorder' for intent or evil.")

No comments: