Wednesday, August 15, 2007

I Saw What You Did

Why is it when we read this, we began to hear the faint sound of quacking ducks? McClatchy (08.14.07):
"Next time you go to the airport, there may be more eyes on you than you notice.

Specially trained security personnel are watching body language and facial cues of passengers for signs of bad intentions.

New airport agents check for danger in fliers' facial expressions

The Feds are calling 'em "Behavior Detection Officers". Transportation Security Administrator Kip Hawley "described them as 'a wonderful tool to be able to identify and do risk management prior to somebody coming into the airport or approaching the crowded checkpoint.'"

The idea is to use something called "'micro-expressions' to identify hidden emotions". About 30 years ago Professor Paul and a colleague "began studying videotapes of people telling lies. When they slowed down the videotapes, they noticed distinct facial movements and began to catalogue them. They were flickers of expression that lasted no more than a fraction of a second."

Flickers of expression, lasting fractions of a seconds? Couldn't possibly misread that.

Here's the kicker. "Different cultures express themselves differently. Expressions and body language are easy to misread, and no one's catalogued them all. [Paul Ekman, former professor at the UC San Francisco who has advised the TSA about this stuff] notes that each culture has its own specific body language, but that little has been done to study each individually in order to incorporate them in a surveillance program."

Gee. You don't suppose some folks will end up looking more suspicious than others, do you?

And whatever you do, don't call Kip Hawley an idiot. Not now, not evah.



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