Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Why Do Humans Screen Baggage?

By Cassandra D

A good friend of mine just returned home from a trip to Las Vegas and found that she had accidentally carried an industrial-sized seam ripper (looked like a wicked curved scalpel to me) in her purse. She dutifully kept her nose spray out of her bag, but the baggage screeners in two different airports failed to notice the lethal weapon she had inadvertently carried onto the plane with her.

What I want to know is this: if we have computers that can find cancer spots in mammograms and computers that can recognize different human faces, then why can't we have computers picking out suspicious objects in the X-ray images of our carry-on bags?

A coworker of another friend of mine was worried about taking a taxi to the airport at night, so she tucked a butcher knife (!) into her purse. She forgot about it and the airport screeners didn't find it.

Humans aren't doing such a great job at screening baggage. How about giving computers a chance?


At 8:10 AM, Blogger BlueDreamer said...

A butcher knife? Wow!

At 10:51 AM, Blogger LiteraryTech said...

Having just traveled for the first time since the bogus arrests in London, I've been mightily inconvenienced by the fact that I am not allowed to carry my toothpaste on the plane although they will let me put it in the baggage compartment. Dangerous stuff, toothpaste. Destroys... uh.. plaque.

So, I get tagged for through search going and coming home. In OKC I get this woman who carefully digs through every corner of my bag. She was quite professional about it and managed not to make a mess of things, so all is well. Then in ATL, I'm subjected to a pat down and the "swab" of my computer to make sure it isn't an explosive device. That's it.

On both ends, a small container of hand lotion (that I'd forgotten I had) was passed by.

Why is it I don't feel safer just because I can't carry my small luggage on board? My suitcase this last time would have fit under the seat in front of me. Really. So I had to check it. Really.


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