Hey, I warned you about this a long time ago. Now, they’re working on this for airport security. See, they’re testing out technologies that would display a particular message aimed at a particular person or kind of person, then observe that person’s response to tailor a following response. Like a SWAT team descending upon them.
Ignore the silly headline in the news report and focus on some of the technology ideas people are pursuing to increase the effectiveness of screening passengers at airports, and, of course, other public transportation centers. The keys here are: 1. inventing the equipment that is small enough, fast enough, accurate enough, and cheap enough, and 2. apply known principles of cognition, psychology, and persuasion.
In my Queen of Tomorrow metaphor, I consider a fantasy person who has figured out how to make attractive sensory devices for vision or hearing that allow her to monitor the wearer and also communicate messages at a subliminal level. Imagine a pair of cool sunglasses that also function like a fighter pilot “heads up” display. Now, imagine you are wearing her iEye device while shopping. A sensor detects your cool fighter pilot glasses and shoots a coupon message to your heads up display for a product on the shelf. When you take it through the check out, another sensor notes the coupon message in your iEye and gives you the discount.
The trick here is that the Queen of Tomorrow, a tricky chick who knows the Laws – no stinkin’ Rules for her – also embeds subliminal messages in your iEye. “The Queen and I Are One” flashes constantly just below your awareness and you feel good about yourself, but also find yourself voting for Her in every election. While this is just my fantasy, the technology is advancing toward this every day as I noted in an earlier post.
Transportation security is looking into this intersection of technology and persuasion for its own uses. The scheme here is promising. Display messages that only a terrorist would recognize (think about all those tattoos and gang signs you’ve seen in those prison reality TV shows then generalize out). Then scan faces to see which ones react to the symbols. Call SWAT.
In the immortal words of Gene Wilder in “Young Frankenstein,” This Could Work! You just need to develop a technology that is fast enough, accurate enough, small enough, and cheap enough. After that, we’re just falling off the persuasion log.
Now, of course, there are interesting Big Brother concerns here and we ain’t talking ’bout no fool TV shows. We’re going back to the future and “1984″ with George Orwell’s dystopic vision of a government apocalypse. It’s hard for me to imagine the technology ever getting good enough for the Queen of Tomorrow fantasy, but if a society ever decided to jump off the cliff like Germany did in 1933 with Adolf Hitler, my opinion would change faster than a subliminal message. Willing adoption of loyalty iEyes in a postmodern society may not be a life worth living.