Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? (Smart Planet)
Even if we put aside reservations about self-reported scores on trials under unspecified conditions and grant that FAST is a technology in its infancy, that track record doesn’t inspire confidence. No one should be satisfied with a screening method that lets through more than one out of every five would-be plane bombers. Far more annoying, however, is that we don’t know exactly what the rates of false positives and false negatives were. A system that missed 20 percent of the terrorists in an airport would be bad but terrorists are rare, so disastrous mistakes would be few. But a system that snared 20 percent of innocent travelers as terrorist suspects would destroy air travel overnight.Even while extending the author's benefit of the doubt, for airports especially the (negative) return on investment would be crippling.
In order to see how, let's imagine a system integrator's dream deployment and then see how that environment differs from an airport.
A system like this would detect all sorts of biostatistics and then compare them to some "normal" value, allow for a tolerance and then alert administrators if something is out of a certain range. If someone wanted to deploy a system like this and give it the best possible chance of success, it would make sense to seek out an environment where "normal" is a very narrow range, rather than a very wide range. The test designer would naturally gravitate toward a test environment where the test subjects make up a homogeneous group, a place where there is cultural uniformity, narrow age differences, low novelty, etc. If I'm the tester, I'm thinking prison first, then military base.
Now airports, by their very nature serve people of all ages from all over the world in various mental, physical and emotional states, not smooth sailing for testing sensitive equipment or training TSA staff to make judgments on small fluctuations of observed data. In airport use, either the error rates have to be very small, or the biostatistic examination would serve as only a small factor in security decision making.
Removing our benefit of the doubt by hypothesizing that those most likely to want to bring harm to global commerce and air travel might undertake training to control their biostatistics and subvert the security they afford, I'm guessing that airports will be one of the last places to adopt such a system. It'll be too costly in all sorts of ways for too little return.
Security: Biometrics vs. Biostatistics (Sept. 15, 2011)
Behavioral Biometrics or Public Lie Detectors? (Sept. 23, 2010)
Mal-intent may be the future of security (June 1, 2010)