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A Better Expenditure of Resources Than Learning to Kill Goats With the Mind

Science fiction always teaches us the way.

In Ridley Scott's 1982 sci-fi classic, Bladerunner, the police have a problem. The wayward androids they are pursuing behave so much like humans, they have a tough time telling them apart.

They turn to the Voight-Kampff test, a futuristic version of the age-old polygraph, to help them out. During the test, subjects are grilled with a list of questions, while their physiology is monitored. In particular, the test looks for abnormal eye responses that might indicate the subject isn't human.

The test is far from perfect, and no doubt there will be teething troubles that beset the development of a similar test the US department of homeland security is looking for help in making.

Under the Small Business Innovation Research programme, the department has asked tech companies to bid for contracts to kick-start research in the area. Such a system, if it works, would undoubtedly be useful at airports and other high-security points.

I take issue with this being credited to Ridley Scott's Bladerunner as the movie and the Voight-Kampff test are based on Philip K. Dick's book Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?. So nyahh!

By min | March 20, 2009, 3:43 PM | Boooooks & Movies & Science