Thesis Info

Thesis Title
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Ayah Bdeir
2nd Author
3rd Author
Masters of Science in Media Arts and Sciences
Number of Pages
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Thesis Supervisor
Chris Csikzentmihalyi
Supervisor e-mail
csik AT
Other Supervisor(s)
Language(s) of Thesis
Department / Discipline
Media Lab, School of Architecture and Planning
Languages Familiar to Author
English, French, Arabic
URL where full thesis can be found
metal detector, magnetometer wand, random selection, ethnic discrimination, pat down, security screening, racial profiling, Transportation Security Administration, body frisk, security theater, intrusive search, abuse of power, abiding traveler, silent bo
Abstract: 200-500 words
In the past three decades, especially in the aftermath of September 11th, significant effort has been focused on developing technologies for aviation security. Security inspectors have considerable latitude to wave passengers into additional screening, and pat-downs are extensive and thorough. Immigrants, individuals from minority groups, and persons from specific ethnicities are targeted more, and accuse authorities of racial profiling and discrimination in both the “random” selection, and the actual pat-down procedure, but are often reluctant to resist or file official complaints. Expensive, intrusive technologies at security officials’ disposal reinforce an inherent power imbalance between authorities and passengers, and set the space for abuse of power. To date, the only tool at a target’s disposal is a verbal or written account of their experience that may or may not be taken seriously. Moreover, existing airport security legislation is flawed and open to interpretation, and official standards used to define a breach are absent or lax. &lt;random&gt; search is an an instrument, a neutral, quantifiable witness to the screening process. Undetectable, wearable pressure sensors, implemented with Quantum Tunneling Composites (QTC), are distributed across the undergarment in order to monitor and record inappropriate or unjustified searches. By allowing the traveler to log and share the experience s/he is going through, the ‘smart’ body suit attempts to quantify the search using a common platform and standardized measurements. The digital record is repeatable and legible enough to be used as evidence to hold security officials accountable for their actions. &lt;random&gt; search is a personal, voluntary technology that does not impose a course of action on the wearer, but rather offers him/her a record to analyze, incriminate, share, perform, or simply keep.