January 26, 2013

Liar, Liar, Pants On Fire

To catch a terrorist, you have to think like a terrorist or at least be able to get behind their lies and deception.

Terrorist want to gain entry, surveil their targets, plan their attack, assemble their weapons and tactics, avoid their pursuers, and execute maximum human, economic, and political damage. 

To succeed, terrorists have to use lies and deceit to make their way through all the obstacles that the good guys put up.

Wired Magazine (February 2013) addresses some new interrogation technology being tested by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to catch the lies and the liars. 

First of all, "people are really good at lying, and it's incredibly hard to tell when we're doing it."

Moreover, most people "lie 10 times a day," so it is routine and comes naturally to them. 

In terms of detecting lies, we are not very good at it--in fact, we're just better than chance--able to tell when someone is lying only 54% of the time.
Apparently, even with polygraph exams--their success is dependent more on the experience and finesse of the examiner and less on the polygraph tool. 

However, with new research and development, DHS has come up with an automated interrogator--that enhances the success of catching a liar by combining multiple detection technologies. 

The "interrogator bot" has three different sensors in use by the Embodied Avatar Kiosk.

- Infrared camera--"records eye movements and pupil dilation at up to 250 times per second--the stress of lying tends to cause the pupils to dilate"

- High-definition video camera--"captures fidgets such as shrugging, nodding, and scratching, which tend to increase during a deceptive statement"

- Microphone--"collects vocal data, because lies often come with minute changes in pitch" as well as "hesitation, changes in tempo and intonation, and spoken errors"

In the future, a additional sensors may be added for:

- Weight-sensing platform--to "measure leg and foot shifts or toe scrunches"

- 3-D camera--to "track the movements of a person's entire body"

Aside from getting better deception-detection results from multiplying the sensing techniques, the interrogation kiosk benefits from communicating in multiple languages and being "consistent, tireless, and susceptible to neither persuasion not bribery."

Another very cool feature being tested is tan interrogation avatar that actually resembles the person being interrogated using a camera and morphing software and making it look uncanny and "disturbing" at the same time--this can be quite familiar, disarming and unnerving.

By aggregating data points from many types of sensors and using behavioral analysis as a first line of defense followed by human questioning of those found to be lying, homeland security can proverbially light a fire under the pants of would be infiltrators and terrorists--and catch them before they make it to their next target. ;-)

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Cosmic Jans)


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