09 January 2011

Truth Machines ~ Workable Suspicion Engines...

I had dinner the other day with good friend, MIT alumnus and now RPI Professor Nick Cassimatis, and he reminded me of The Truth Machine, the amazing first science fiction novel by numismatic entrepreneur Jim Halperin. As I've noted before, this SF masterpiece, about the perfection of lie detection technologies and the consequences for society, is an idea which in no small measure influenced me to co-create the MIT Neurotechnology Ventures class with Ed Boyden and Rutledge Ellis-Behnke. The idea of Suspicion Engines -- i.e. security systems for detecting suspect behaviors -- is a blossoming innovation domain. And such solutions are centrally needed in order to deal with the non-linear security threats of our era. Impotent and ineffective TSA gropes and superficial T-Ray scans are irrelevant to preventing diehard terrorists. And putting every public event behind security screens and under lockdown will not prevent further religious or political assassinations. Finally, without being able to assess their actual intentions, even "trusted" bodyguards will continue to kill -- as they did with India's Indira Ghandi and Pakistan's Salman Taseer. We need to be able to assess intentions and quantify suspicions in order to interdict evil-doers.

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