An Israeli start-up says it has developed a personality prediction program that could help police and security services spot people with malign intentions, but an independent security expert says it could harm individual freedom. Jim Drury reports.
Is Faception an ingenious way to increase public safety or an incursion into our civil liberties? The former, say its makers. The Israeli start-up says it can isolate human character traits in faces captured by photograph or video. It says it can distinguish about 20 different personality groups, ranging from champion poker players to crime suspects. SOUNDBITE (English) SHAI GILBOA, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER OF FACEPTION, SAYING: "What we do, we know, with high level of accuracy, your personality ingredients, behaviour, potential and so we can have a profile about someone, as an individual and the same we can do about a crowd...let's say gate number eight there are too much people that potentially can be terrorists or violent audience so this is something that is very crucial for public safety". Faception won't say how the algorithm works, except that it somehow gleans genetic information that lies within facial expressions. The firm insists it has no interest in retaining collected data and that the system disregards racial profiling. This security expert isn't convinced that's enough. SOUNDBITE (English) DOCTOR NIMROD KOZLOVSKI, SECURITY EXPERT, SAYING: "Certainly advancement in technologies that enable to monitor an individual and actually to assess certain traits or certain attributes about individuals in the open space opens surveillance and monitoring capabilities which kind of like put in risk private freedoms that we used to enjoy, like the freedom of privacy, like the freedom of communication that we used to enjoy and now the technoligy certainly changes the balance." Counter-terror experts say the firm must improve its 86 percent successful detection rate for it to be useful in airports. Civil liberties campaigners might say it shouldn't be used at all.