A few hours ago, President Donald Trump received the security codes used to launch nuclear weapons. That makes a lot of people nervous. Trump has been characterized by psychologists as being impetuous and hot-headed, among other emotionally unstable qualities, and it's not too difficult to imagine him up late at night and in a rage, fingering those codes.
Wouldn't it be great if he had to wear this emotion detector from Violeta Tulceanu at the University of Iasi, Romania? It's a security device that analyzes a person's brainwaves and only grants access to a password-protected system if the person is in a fit mental state.
"Authorization is granted if the user's state of mind allows him to responsibly use the resources he is entitled to," Tulceanu writes in her paper, which appeared this week in the "International Journal of Advanced Intelligence Paradigms."
Other researchers have developed biometric technology designed to collect some unique attribute of person's body and use that as a kind of password. An iPhones uses a fingerprint, for example. So do some gun lock devices. Other systems may use the iris pattern in your eye. Other researchers have even found a way to create password based on a person's unique brainwave pattern.
Tulceanu's goes a step further to determine whether that brainwave pattern represents a fit mental state.
The system works by first establishing a baseline brainwave fingerprint. To do that, the person dons an EEG cap or other device that can measure brainwaves. Next, he's shown evocative images or sounds meant to produce a reaction. The brainwave patterns generated are collected and amassed into a unique, digital fingerprint that represents the person's basic emotional state.
People go through a similar process when setting up fingerprint access on a iPhone, for example. They're asked to press a finger against the touch sensor several times in order to set up a baseline pattern. When it comes time to gain access to the phone, they need only press a finger once.
With Tulceanu's brainwave system, once a person had the baseline brainwave fingerprint established, he would request access by wearing an EEG cap or other brain device. The system measures the brain activity and if the emotional state matches the baseline, he get access. But if he's were in a rage, he won't.
Such a system could be used to control access to military facilities, hospitals, computers, ATMs, and even nuclear weapons codes. Okay, that last one probably isn't something Tulceanu and her team considered, but I think everyone can agree that the more sensitive the data, the more critical the need for a clear head.