Suppose there's a modern society which has one simple rule to immigration: Pass one test, and you're let in. Fail, and you're rejected. The society is primarily science-based and rather cautious of letting terrorists and serial killers into their country. Optimally, this test would be able to be taken without human interaction. My questions are:

  • What would this test look like? (As in, what ideas should it encompass to keep unwanted people out, based on current immigration systems?)
  • What would the advantages be for having this single-test system? (besides simplicity)
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    $\begingroup$ I don't have time for the full answer this question is due, but I'll give you one nudge: the test would be LONG. Like hours and hours long, by design. To weed out people who have undesirable traits and leanings you would need to wear down their resistance to answering questions in a deceitful manner, and studies have shown people over long periods tend to start answering with their first instinct. You would also use a lot of indirect questions - eg. you won't ask "do you murder people", but over 50 questions you might probe to see whether the test taker is capable of sympathy. $\endgroup$ – GrinningX Sep 12 '16 at 21:33
  • $\begingroup$ Assuming current technology? $\endgroup$ – sdrawkcabdear Sep 12 '16 at 21:58
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    $\begingroup$ @GrinningX - over 50 questions you might get to determine how well a person is capable of faking sympathy just as easily as someone who genuinely does. How would you ensure a person is answering questions genuinely? $\endgroup$ – Twelfth Sep 12 '16 at 22:07
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    $\begingroup$ Is there a (preferably world building) motivation behind a one-test system? Most "scientific" societies would hold that a single test is gameable by bad actors, and so a diversity of signals is ideal. You also run up against false positives: prejudging those who should pass but don't. Right now this reads like a thinly veiled politics question that belongs on a other forum. $\endgroup$ – Nathaniel Ford Sep 12 '16 at 22:30
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    $\begingroup$ A persons subconscious mind does not tend to lie, so if you can put them in a senario where they are basically taking the test whille asleep, that would be best. It would be simillar to the faction tests in "Divergent". $\endgroup$ – Necessity Sep 13 '16 at 16:12

So there are two main problems:

  • people who are planning to do harm when they enter
  • those who might latter become radicalized (changed to want to do harm)

The second set is very hard to detect because you essentially are trying to predict the future thoughts of a person, which has never been done reliably.

You would like to test for both, so you must ask questions that will work even if the subject lies and probe for unconscious mind sets that might lead to radicalization. A very important point is with either it is very likely to get false positives.

If the test is clearly a test then people can lie about their intentions and people who don't yet intend to do harm will pass right through.

Here are three factors that might help:

  • The first and best option is a test that is not obviously a test, or appears to be a test about something else. A friend from the old country that you happen to meet that talks about his beliefs. A test of the local language that subtly probes word associations. This lets you ask about a persons mind set without having to deal with them lying.

  • Second would be length, get a test that goes over a long time to ware down liars and get as much information about the subject as

  • Third you can also focus on unconscious or hard to manipulate
    (heart rate sweat breathing pattern) the problem with all
    of these is they only detect stress which could result from worrying about not being allowed in(normal) or worrying about being
    caught(what you are trying to detect)

Edit: As Ethan Chapman pointed out, since the second type could include people already in the country at the time the test is implemented, for completeness the test would have to be run on all residents of the country. This significantly raises the cost.

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  • $\begingroup$ Isn't it somewhat pointless to make a large point of testing for the second kind, as the current inhabitants could just as easily become radicalized and there are (presumably) far more of them? $\endgroup$ – Ethan Chapman Sep 12 '16 at 23:03
  • $\begingroup$ @EthanChapman good point incorporating $\endgroup$ – sdrawkcabdear Sep 12 '16 at 23:16
  • $\begingroup$ Your first factor could be more useful than it seems - a test that appears to be about something else can usefully misdirect, to rule out those who just repeat or try to guess the winning answer. So if they come up with a test slanted to, say, obedience, when they're really testing for something else (compassion, or ethics or such) - those trying to game the test will be focused in the completely wrong direction, and those who ignore the slant in their answers should really believe them, to go against the grain. It will test against ordinary follower-types, but that might be a positive. $\endgroup$ – Megha Sep 14 '16 at 5:22

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