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Future Attribute Screening Technology

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Overview Edit

The Future Attribute Screening Technology (FAST) (originally titled Project Hostile Intent) is a Department of Homeland Security project that seeks to improve the screening process at transportation and other critical checkpoints by developing behavior-based screening techniques that will provide additional indicators to screeners to enable them to make more informed decisions. FAST is not intended to provide “probable cause” for law enforcement processes, nor would the FAST technology, once deployed operationally, replace or preempt the decisions of human screeners.

The baseline for the project is the development and validation of the Theory of Malintent. "Malintent" is the intent to cause harm. Although individuals may experience malintent in a variety of situations, the specific focus of FAST is identifying individuals who exhibit physiological indications, which in the specific screening settings, are determined to be associated with malintent. Behavioral scientists hypothesize that someone with malintent may act strangely, show mannerisms out of the norm, or experience extreme physiological reactions based on the extent, time, and consequences of the event. The FAST technology design capitalizes on these indicators to identify individuals exhibiting characteristics associated with malintent.

The scope of malintent has three distinguishing factors: the extent of planned harm, the future time horizon of the event, and the consequences to the individual who is planning the event. The extent of harm can range from individuals planning to cause a disturbance or use false documents to individuals who are planning an assassination or terrorist attack. The future time horizon can range from planning an event years in advance to planning to carry out the act immediately after passing through screening. The consequences to the actor (perceived as either positive or negative) can range from none to being temporarily detained to deportation, prison, or death.

The FAST research seeks to (1) identify and validate indicators of malintent; (2) develop a prototype incorporating sensors that measure these indicators; and (3) test the performance of the prototype using volunteers. During the experimental research, the volunteer participant (as notified during the informed consent process) may be explicitly instructed to carry out a disruptive act, so that the researchers and the participant (but not the experimental screeners) already know that the participant has malintent. So in the experimental setting, these three factors would be known (i.e., the participant is told the time horizon, the extent of harm, and the consequences).

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