14 June 2005

I bet this'll be announced on a Friday evening


Those of you who live in the US might not have heard about this, but those of us who go through a passport a year or so certainly have. The US has been saying it would require foreigners who can travel to the US without a visa (basically, people from rich, friendly countries) to have passports containing biometric data. It was never stated how this was going to make the US safer, especially given that the 9/11 hijackers, whoever they might have been, were in the US on valid visas.

Anyway, Ireland has now said it's dropping plans for the high-tech passports, expecting the US to drop the requirement because the technology is not reliable. I would expect a quiet announcement from the Department of Homeland Security any Friday now.

It's been said before, but it bears repeating — computers pretty consistently are good at things people are bad at, like remembering reams of numeric data, and bad in the areas where people shine, like recognizing faces. There's not going to be a technological silver bullet to identify "bad" people.