Becoming an intelligence agent might get a lot harder.
A new proposal by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence recommends using wearable sensors to monitor the physical and psychological abilities of potential intelligence agents. The program, called Multimodal Objective Sensing to Assess Individuals With Context, or Mosaic, would collect data on a series of predetermined traits for a potential recruit. The information would be analyzed to create in-depth evaluations on whether an individual is a good fit for the agency.
A job candidate's psychological profile, cognitive abilities, mental "resilience" and productivity are all mentioned as important data points, as well as overall physical health and wellness. The program would use multiple sensors worn by the recruit to capture data from a variety of different real-life situations.
The proposal points to new and increasingly complex demands for intelligence agents. "Selecting and evaluating a workforce that is well-suited for the psychological and cognitive demands of the diverse positions across the Intelligence Community (IC) is an important and persistent need," it states.
Mosaic would also monitor already employed agents using these wearables to ensure that agents are maintaining a certain performance level. That data could help the agency evaluate and optimize employee behavior, the proposal says.
Using wearables to assess the capability of potential hires and current employees is nothing new. It has been adopted by the National Footbal League in its recruiting process, where hopefuls practice in performance gear strapped with data-collecting sensors. Major League Baseball just approved the use of wearables next season, but it says data will primarily be used to better understand player injuries. And the National Basketball Association may soon follow suit. Wearables are widely used by athletes in all sports during training to help monitor and optimize performance.
But in the national intelligence community, which harbors potentially sensitive information, some experts fear that data collection of its employees is a risk. "Government personnel files have been hacked into in the recent past, with the possible consequence that government employees working undercover might have had their covers blown. In that light, having more information about those employees involves some trade-offs," said Timothy Keller, a technology lawyer and blogger.
The Office of the Director of National Intelligence was not available for comment.