Friday, December 2, 2016

If You Could Read My Mind: Device Can Read Emotions Via Wifi

If You Could Read My Mind: Device Can Read Emotions Via Wifi 
By Kurtis Bright

Emotion-Reading Technology Has Alarming Implications For Advertising and Law Enforcement

The science fiction film “Minority Report” (which was based on the infinitely better book by Phillip K. Dick) featured Cruise’s character being creeped on by a seemingly endless stream of targeted advertising as he makes his way in the sleek, glass-walled world. Screens identify him and offer all manner of wares targeted specifically at him as he passes by, with life-sized advertising avatars (advertars?) creepily eyeballing him as he moves down the street.

However advertising is just the tip of the iceberg as far as where the next latest gadgetry may be heading, dragging us kicking and screaming into a stark future stripped of all anonymity. And now a group of researchers from MIT has developed a machine that can predict people’s emotions with 87 percent accuracy--simply by bouncing wireless signals off the body of their subject.

The machine has been called the EQ-Radio, and it achieves its dubious task by analyzing the heart rate and breathing of the subject based on the signals it receives after bouncing a signal off of them.

Of course, the same cues can and have been used to predict people’s emotions; so-called and largely discredited “lie detectors” rely on similar data. However this is the first machine capable of doing so without needing to be in contact with the subject--which also implies that it could be used without the subject’s knowledge.

The device is smaller than a typical WiFi router, and it fires signals that are bounced off the person and collected. This data is then fed into a machine-learning algorithm that classifies the person’s emotions as excited, happy, angry or sad. According to the researchers, the machine’s accuracy was on a par with similar wired machines.

As scientists often do, the research team was starry-eyed and rather naïve about the possible misuses of the research, as they gushed about potential upside uses for the machine: health care systems that could alert medical staff if it sensed you were starting to become depressed, smart homes that could automatically adjust lighting and music to match your moods, for example.

“The idea is that you can enable machines to recognize our emotions so they can interact with us at much deeper levels,” said Fadel Adib in an MSN interview.

Neither Adib, who is a doctoral student at MIT who helped design the machine, nor his colleagues mentioned a couple of other, blindingly obvious uses for which this technology will almost certainly be employed: advertising and surveillance.

How about real-time tracking of your emotions as you watch ads scroll by on the subway--oh, your heart rate increased as you viewed the Victoria’s Secret ad? More flesh for this guy, please. Or how about the violation of simply walking through the mall, unwittingly sharing a vast treasure trove of information of the most personal kind without your consent or knowledge.

It is an advertiser’s wet dream.

Same goes for law enforcement. Even with the failure of the TSA’s $1 billion behavioral screening program--one which gave results that were no better than chance--you can bet law enforcement will be quick to jump on board with this gadgetry.

The possibilities for abuse are almost endless: imagine being pulled out of line at the airport just for having a bad day, say for being irritated with your boss, or sad following a bad news phone call from your family.

Based on that emotional/physical data, the highly-trained professionals working for the TSA pulling down $9 an hour and often without even a high school education could shake you down, search your bag and your person--all based on emotional information gathered without your consent.

They wouldn’t even have to tell you why.

The future has arrived, methinks, and it ain’t pretty.


No comments:

Post a Comment