#900: Scareware

I’m interested in using physiology to reduce crime: specifically those crimes in which someone is being threatened with injury if they fail to hand over money -or information.

It seems that if you are really scared, it can be reliably detected by an increased heartrate and a decreased skin temperature. There is very little that one can do consciously to change these effects if one is being menaced (assuming you haven’t been schooled in meditation).


An example might be when someone is taken at knifepoint to an ATM and told to withdraw some money. If the system is equipped with sensors which can detect unusual readings indicative of fear, then it will override even the correct pin number entry and refuse to dispense cash.

Such systems would require a touchpad to detect the variation from normal of an individual’s values, a fingerprint reader and a sign that says “This bank is protected so that withdrawals are prevented if customers are under threat”. In this way a polygraph-like device is used to protect a potential victim, rather than incriminate a suspect. This could also be applied to transport under threat of hijacking.

I’d suggest equipping such systems with a camera, activated when fear is detected, in order to gain evidence against an aggressor.

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