Truth machines at the mall?

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By C.J. Castillo

Imagine that in the near future you go to fill out a credit card application at an ATM in your local mall. The machine uses voice analysis software to detect if you are lying on your application. Crazy, right?

Well friends, this isn't science fiction and the future is here, because this type of software is now being tested in Russia.

The voice analysis software was developed by the Speech Technology Center, the center that works for the Russian domestic intelligence agency. The bank testing out the ATM is Sberbank, whose majority owner is the Russian government.

Dmitri V. Dyrmovsky, director of the center's Moscow offices, told the New York Times that the voice analysis software was designed by using samples from "Russian law enforcement databases of recorded voices of people found to be lying during police interrogations."

Applicants using the ATM are asked questions related to their current finances and status of employment. The software is able to detect nervousness and anxiety, and measures the tone of voices, similar to how a polygraph test works.

The information detected by the applicant's voice, along with credit history and other data, would determine if a person's credit is approved.

So far Sberbank has not scheduled a timeline for when these ATMs will be installed in malls and banks across Russia.

If this type of technology seems a bit much to you, not so for those in Russia. According to the NYT article, "many Russians already assume the government can watch or listen to them when it chooses to." So there you have it.

All we need is for this type of software to be used at a vending machine. "I'm sorry, Dave. You've had enough Cheetos for today. Have an apple instead."

Please don't let that happen, science.

CJ Castillo writes about geeky stuff for the Victoria Advocate. You can contact her at cjcastillo@vicad.com. Please send all correspondence c/o Victoria Advocate, P.O. Box 1518, Victoria, TX 77902.



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