Can Computers Detect Suspicious Behavior?

from the minority-report dept

The arrest earlier this week of most-wanted criminal Warren Steed Jeffs, was a successful use of behavioral profiling. The cops who pulled over the car with Jeffs in it didn't recognize him, but they suspected they had someone big due to his visibly pulsating carotid artery. Upon seeing that, they summoned backup, and eventually realized who they had pulled over. But the problem with this type of security is that it doesn't scale very well. One-on-one encounters are costly and time intensive, and it's difficult to train people in effective behavioral profiling. A group of scientists in Australia are now trying to develop algorithms that recognize suspicious behavior. For example, the computer might be able to identify if someone deliberately left a briefcase unattended, or if that person had an expression of nervousness as they shoved it beneath a chair. The technology hopes to improve on useless facial recognition techniques, which only work with known suspects, and tend to overwhelm security forces with false positives. Sadly, in all likelihood, this new approach, apart from being several years off, would likely run into many of the same problems.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Snowie, Sep 1st, 2006 @ 8:40am

    Pity the shaky!

    One of my close friends flew to visit me in the UK last week for a few days. Upon his return, the stringent security measures at UK airports now in force quicked in with a vengeance. My mild-mannered, gentle IT friend checked in with lots of time to spare, but boarded the plane last. Why? He suffers from depression and the continued use of medication makes his hands tremble. I guess being surrounded by armed police and the excitable nature of the times we are living in didn't help matters either.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    Having Fun, Sep 1st, 2006 @ 9:14am

    Having Fun

    Teens could have a lot of fun with such a system trying to "fake it".

    Since, it technically isn't illegal to "act suspicious". I can see kids trying to fake suspicious behaviour for laughs and giggle.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    icon
    Gabriel Tane (profile), Sep 1st, 2006 @ 9:19am

    Hit it on the head

    I think Joe got it right on with the last sentence. Since computers are nowhere near the ability to rationalize the information into a creative judgement of character, this is going to do nothing more than flag down "probables" that then have to be checked by humans.

    But at least it's a step forward. Hopefully, we'll get those cool Star Trek computers that will hold a conversation and be able to interpret what you want it to do.

    Like I always say, it'll be a great day when my computer does what I want it to do, not what I tell it to do.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    eb, Sep 1st, 2006 @ 9:33am

    Brings up the question

    of whether the software will be able to interpret why the person is nervous/anxious. Maybe he's just found out his wife is cheating on him, maybe he's contemplating selling his employer's business intelligence to a competitor, or maybe he's a terrorist with a bomb. It's still going to take a human being to make the call, unless we forbid air travel to any but the placid members of the prozac nation.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 1st, 2006 @ 10:09am

    Re: Brings up the question

    Or maybe hes just afraid of flying.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    identicon
    BotGuy, Sep 1st, 2006 @ 10:43am

    artificial intelligence

    yea... this is pointless technology at this point in the game... "common sense" ai is nowhere near what it needs to be in order for something like this to be applicable. come up with all the algorithms you want, unless you have a computer with the ability to make rationalized deductions in a non-static non-specialized environment it's all pointless... unless of course your algorithms accomplish such a thing and then why bother showcasing as they intend... the implications towards ai development would greatly overshadow the use in the aforementioned field.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    identicon
    Jim Harper, Sep 1st, 2006 @ 10:49am

    Artificial Intelligence

    Between the one that doesn't scale and the one that doesn't work, the correct choice is obvious.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    Dam, Sep 1st, 2006 @ 10:58am

    Maybe Gattaca Has The Answer

    In the film "Gattaca", the cops carried little Palms that could take a sample of blood, hair or whatever and run it through the DNA database. Maybe that's what we need. And, we'll let Homeland Security maintain the database. They're reliable right?

    (Sarcasm switch off)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    identicon
    w1nX, Sep 1st, 2006 @ 11:23am

    Re: Maybe Gattaca Has The Answer

    Why don't they just run the DNA search thru AOL? =P

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 1st, 2006 @ 1:21pm

    Re: Maybe Gattaca Has The Answer by w1nX

    > Why don't they just run the DNA search thru AOL?

    Can you image what kind of fcuked up mutants we would get if you did that?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    identicon
    lil'bit, Sep 1st, 2006 @ 2:14pm

    it technically isn't illegal to "act suspicious" Actually, Albany, OR has a law on the books enabling police to arest people on the grounds "suspected of suspicious behavior" or words to that effect.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    identicon
    Search Engine WEB, Sep 1st, 2006 @ 8:33pm

    NOW WHAT

    so now, people will train themselves NOT to show expressions when committing an illegal act. Or to wear tinted eyeglasses and bangs or caps


    in fact, it may get to the point of trained terrorists ot career criminals using chemicals to paralyze their faces before commencing an act

    People are nevous if they have some guillt or fear - mind control may now be taught to them

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    identicon
    bored now, Sep 1st, 2006 @ 10:28pm

    Of course we already have a working example

    of this in banks' IFDS (Intelligent Fraud Detection Systems). These are neural net based systems that they use to detect suspicious patterns of transactions on credit cards. They've been in place for some years now and, although the dataset they operate on is vastly more limited than the proposals mentioned, I believe that we can draw some conclusions.

    What conclusions? Take a typical exchange with one of my (UK) card issuers (after I've called them back on a known good number):
    Bank: "We've suspended your Visa card because we've detected a suspicious pattern of transactions."
    Me: "Do tell."
    Bank: "It's been used repeatedly in...AMERICA!"
    Me: "And do you know what type of card it is dear?"
    Bank: "Oh yes. It's an American Airlines affinity card."
    Me: "Does that fact not give you a clue...?"

    In other words, I'd be very, very worried about an unacceptably high rate of false positives, not to mention the very real risks arising from false negatives, once people downgrade other security measures due to blind faith in the all-knowing expert system.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 3rd, 2006 @ 7:47am

    [blockquote]One-on-one encounters are costly and time intensive,[/blockquote]

    However, without the sunglass wearing, pistol carrying cop, there would be no "pulsing cartoid". A man who feels he's escaping without detection acts much different than someone under the close scrutiny of a Law Enforcement Officer.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 3rd, 2006 @ 3:59pm

    Re: NOW WHAT

    lol... botox for terroists?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    identicon
    painlord2k, Sep 4th, 2006 @ 3:26am

    Re: Having Fun

    Please, don't try this in Italy, because a law in the book is about faking a crime and another is about creating alarm.
    And i'm sure there are the same laws in the USA.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    identicon
    Curtly Ambrose, Oct 29th, 2013 @ 7:12am

    Best varicose vein removal at USA Vein Clinics in NYC.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This