List of endorsers of investigating the use of CKA in the fight against terrorism

The following endorse spending money to determine whether a viable system incorporating CKA technology can be built:

Cruz Bustamante, Lt. Governor, State of California
Phil Angelides, Treasurer, State of California
Willie Brown, Mayor, San Francisco
Frank Jordan, former Mayor, San Francisco
Senator Ron Wyden, member, Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee
Congressman Michael Honda, member, House Transportation Committee (and subcommittee on Aviation & Transit)
Lew Platt, former CEO, Hewlett-Packard, board member of Boeing
Gordon Moore, co-founder Intel, recipient National Medal of Technology
Rod Diridon, Executive Director, Mineta Transportation Institute
Frank Quattrone, Managing Director, Credit Suisse First Boston
Howard L. Simon, Executive Director, ACLU of Florida:

Here is a comment from one of the endorsers:

You put your finger on why we are so interested. Without public trust, business stinks. With a high level of trust, business could actually be enhanced.

Current status

  • Daschle and Gephardt presented the idea to Bush. Bush said "he'd look into it" but they felt that Bush was focused on efforts abroad and that nothing would come of it.
  • Mike Honda has attempted to get wording into the airport security bill, but lacks sufficient "clout"
  • No one from any government agency has called Farwell even to inquire as to whether the technology can be applied to detecting terrorists (it can, he's even posted it on his website).

Proposed legislation

  • Definitions: Computerized Knowledge Assessment (CKA) refers to any technique in which a computer monitors the response of a human subject to test stimuli and automatically, and without manual interpretation, accurately assesses whether the subject has or does not have certain specific knowledge or memory in the areas tested.
  • Resolution: The administrators of the FBI and CIA are directed to investigate whether any CKA technology already known and previously tested by either agency can be used to detect individuals with terrorist training. Only those CKA technologies which have previously shown in at least one test by either agency a 90% accuracy level shall be tested. All such previously known CKA systems shall be evaluated on trials involving 100 or more test subjects (a mix of terrorists and non-terrorists) who are instructed to try to fool the system. The trials shall use methods and procedures approved by the originator or inventor of the specific CKA technique and the results shall be certified by the originator, or an equally skilled authority on the CKA technique, as a proper application of the technology. The results of these tests shall be reported back to Congress.

Statement from Dr. Howard L. Simon, Executive Director American Civil Liberties Union of Florida:

Any measure that is under consideration because it is designed to enhance the security of America in the wake of the horrendous events of September 11th, as well as measures that are now implemented by federal, state or local law enforcement authorities, must be judged not only by the standard of their effectiveness in maximizing security, but whether they minimize restrictions on civil liberties.

Every new proposal that contemplates the use of a potentially intrusive technology should be subjected to a two-step analysis. We must first evaluate whether a technology actually makes us safer. If it does, we must balance any increase in safety against the technology's cost to our fundamental freedoms, including our privacy.

Lawmakers must search for effective weapons against terrorism that avoid the unnecessary expansion of government powers, or that grant new powers unrelated to the need to protect America from terrorism.

We need to be especially concerned about any expansion of government powers that unnecessarily intrude upon the privacy of Americans or that can be implemented in a discriminatory fashion to profile and target people based on their race, national origin, ethnicity, religious affiliation or religious garb.

For example, the ACLU has opposed plans to install facial recognition software in combination with video surveillance in U.S. airports because flaws in the technology make it ineffective and provide a false sense of security -- a conclusion several federal agencies have already reached. It is now clear that the current facial recognition technology fails the test of accuracy and effectiveness. Because of its high failure rate, facial recognition technology cannot significantly increase our safety.

The technology of "brain fingerprinting," a technology developed by former Harvard Medical School faculty member Dr. Larry Farwell, coupled with the technology of iris scans, on the other hand, appear to be both more reliable and less intrusive of civil liberties.

"Brain fingerprinting" appears to utilize a technology that excludes human judgment, and therefore the capacity to utilize discriminatory profiles of those seeking entry to the United States and airline passengers. Further, "brain fingerprinting" technology, despite it name, appears to be capable of detecting those who have familiarity with certain images or locations without the construction of a database of personally identifying information.

Aside from independent assessments of its effectiveness in making the nation safer, the combination of the two technologies, at least as to its use in airports, may be capable of operating without the use of discredited profiling and the far more intrusive questioning and searching of airline passengers.

Of course, more inquiry needs to made into the effectiveness of the technologies and whether they can operate in a manner that minimizes the intrusion into constitutional freedoms, including the right of privacy. This inquiry needs to be done both by industry experts as well as those, like the American Civil Liberties Union, who are concerned about the technology's impact on freedoms.