Thursday, September 15, 2011

Unacceptable Emotions Soon to be Analyzed in Airports

Brandon Turbeville
Activist Post

A recent article published by the BBC entitled “New Emotion Detector Can See When We’re Lying,” introduces a new concept to the prison camp known as Western airports -- the addition of “emotion detectors.” The “new” technology is essentially a system of video cameras connected to “a high-resolution thermal imaging sensor and a suite of algorithms.”

The idea behind the most recent Big Brother system being implemented at British airports, or at least the one that is being touted by the security state, is that since humans give away their emotions through a variety of unconscious means, the ability to read these facial cues would greatly enable security agents to interpret the intentions and the honesty of potential terrorists and thereby thwart coming attacks. In order to do this, the surveillance system uses eye movements, dilated pupils, biting, nose wrinkling, heavy breathing, pressing lips together, blinking, swallowing, and other facial movements. The system also detects swelling blood vessels around the eyes.

As Professor Hassan Ugail from Bradford University, a leading researcher on the project, states, “We bring together all this well-established work on expressions, these recent developments in thermal imaging, techniques for image tracking of subjects and our new algorithms into one operational system.”  Ugail has also stated that he believes he will eventually be able to detect those who are lying with an accuracy rate of around 90%, even though it is currently far less effective than that, and admittedly will never be 100%.  Regardless, the system is ready to be deployed even during a time of heightened fear and paranoia that is leading to millions being added to terror databases or no-fly lists for the slightest suspicions.

Both the article and the researchers (as they are quoted in the article), are also quite deceptive in their presentation. Although the system is presented as a new and much-improved version of the lie detector, the fact is that these systems are not lie detectors at all. They are emotion detectors.

By reading the facial cues listed above, the technology can detect emotions such as fear, nervousness, anger, anxiety etc. These emotions can often be symptoms of one who is lying, but they are not guarantees by any means. Indeed, even the BBC article states that this system only detect emotions “such as distress, fear or distrust, and not the act of lying itself.” In short, experiencing one or more of these emotions does not equal lying -- these days it equals flying.

Anyone who does not experience at least one of the "trigger" emotions as they get groped, blasted with radiation, yelled at, or intimidated by bomb-sniffing dogs, heavily armed police, and moronic goons is simply not capable of much feeling.

Even without the obnoxious security measures implemented in airports, the normal stresses of travel provide plenty of opportunities to experience negative emotions. Long lines, screaming children, jet lag, inconsiderate fellow travelers, etc can all be taxing enough.

However, with the rape downs occurring at every airport in the Western world, the cancer-causing  body scanners, and the constant harassment  of travelers for every possible “out of the ordinary” act (even going to the bathroom), it is quite hard to believe that traveling through an airport could evoke any emotion other than fear, distress, distrust, or anger.  I, myself, have been through the notorious airport screeners and, I have to say, I was not happy when I got to the other side of security.  There is little doubt that, had an emotion scanner been in place in any of the airports I went through, I would have been pulled aside for extra questioning.

Yet, ironically, it is not only the behavior of the TSA and all the other “go along to get along” enforcers that provokes traveler anxiety. The constant fear mongering of the media and the government about the possibility of being blown to bits by foreign or domestic extremists every time one enters a public building might also be cause for some genuine feelings of fear and distress. Now the traveler will be harassed and questioned for the crime of feeling the fear that the system told him he must feel to begin with!

But the issue is not the effectiveness of the technology; the issue is whether law-abiding, innocent travelers should be subjected to screening and pre-crime surveillance. Considering the blatant abuse of power and uncontrollable behavior of the security agents in airports the world over, if anyone should be subjected to emotional behavioral screening based on their actions it should be those doing the bidding of this tyrannical system.

Indeed, if innocent people are forced to virtually strip naked, have their genitals groped and prodded, be subjected to cancer-causing radiation, and the verbal, sometimes physical, abuse of security agents, then be told to endure all of this without feeling the natural emotions of anger, distrust, or distress, then it seems the issue of Freedom vs. Security has been settled. Unfortunately, both have been severely compromised.

Brandon Turbeville is an author out of Mullins, South Carolina. He has a Bachelor’s Degree from Francis Marion University where he earned the Pee Dee Electric Scholar’s Award as an undergraduate. He has had numerous articles published dealing with a wide variety of subjects including health, economics, and civil liberties. 

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