Customers Embrace “Controversial” Technology

Fingerprints the new ATM PINs (The Daily Telegraph – Australia)

The bank has revealed it will explore introducing controversial technology that stores biometric data, replacing the need for PINs, after research suggested customers were willing to embrace it. [emphasis mine]

What percentage of people must embrace something before it ceases to be “controversial”? The article’s implicit answer is “more than 79%.”

The article is only five sentences long, so I’m not cherry-picking an odd sentence from a long article. The whole set of the article’s facts is that a bank’s study found that a Pareto of people are totally OK with fingerprint biometrics, which pretty much means that they’re the opposite of controversial.

Strange and Unintended Brain-Computer Interface Applications

You shouldn’t believe everything you read in a headline. I’ve supplied one above that is far more accurate but far less alarming than the one provided by the original story below.

Scientists Successfully ‘Hack’ Brain To Obtain Private Data (CBS – Seattle, WA)

The scientists took an off-the-shelf Emotiv brain-computer interface, a device that costs around $299, which allows users to interact with their computers by thought.

The scientists then sat their subjects in front of a computer screen and showed them images of banks, people, and PIN numbers. They then tracked the readings coming off of the brain, specifically the P300 signal.

The P300 signal is typically given off when a person recognizes something meaningful, such as someone or something they interact with on a regular basis.

Scientists that conducted the experiment found they could reduce the randomness of the images by 15 to 40 percent, giving them a better chance of guessing the correct answer.

The case the author wants to make is way overstated, which it too bad because the topic is very interesting without over hyping it.

The controversial part of what the story describes (quoted above) is sort of a half-way house between the hack vs con discussion. I guess in the distant future, people will have to be more wary of street-corner magicians and psychologists but the PIN probably isn’t going anywhere any time soon.

This may be for a future post but I suspect that due to biometrics the PIN will become more common as complex passwords become more rare, even in the presence of brain-computer-interface wielding mountebanks.