Personality prediction program could spot troublemakers

An Israeli start-up says it has developed a personality prediction software which can determine if a person is a potential security risk.

TEL AVIV (REUTERS) - 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.

"What we do, we know, with high level of accuracy, your personality ingredients, behaviour, potential, and 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 many people that potentially can be terrorists or violent audience, this is something that is very crucial for public safety" said Shai Gilboa, Chief Executive officer of Faception.

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.

Security expert Dr Nimrod Kozlovski isn't convinced that's enough.

"Certainly, advancements in technologies that monitor and assess certain traits or attributes about individuals in open spaces open up surveillance and monitoring capabilities, but put in risk private freedoms that we used to enjoy, like the freedom of privacy, like the freedom of communication. The technology certainly changes the balance" said Dr Kozlovski.

Counter-terror experts say the firm must improve its 86 per cent successful detection rate for it to be useful in airports.

Civil liberties campaigners might say it shouldn't be used at all.