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Thermal Imaging Lie Detector In Development 183

Posted by Soulskill
from the he-winked,-get-the-cuffs dept.
beaverdownunder writes with this quote from the BBC: "A sophisticated new camera system can detect lies just by watching our faces as we talk, experts say. The computerized system uses a simple video camera, a high-resolution thermal imaging sensor and a suite of algorithms. ... It successfully discriminates between truth and lies in about two-thirds of cases, said lead researcher Professor Hassan Ugail from Bradford University. ... We give our emotions away in our eye movements, dilated pupils, biting or pressing together our lips, wrinkling our noses, breathing heavily, swallowing, blinking and facial asymmetry. And these are just the visible signs seen by the camera. Even swelling blood vessels around our eyes betray us, and the thermal sensor spots them too."
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Thermal Imaging Lie Detector In Development

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  • by paiute (550198) on Tuesday September 13, 2011 @07:44PM (#37393008)
    You're in a desert, walking along in the sand, when all of a sudden you look down...
    • by Tsingi (870990)
      LOL!

      That is precisely what I thought of when I read this. Not just the test, the tortoise.

  • sounds like ... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by recrudescence (1383489) on Tuesday September 13, 2011 @07:45PM (#37393016)
    Tyrell: Is this to be an empathy test? Capillary dilation of the so-called blush response? Fluctuation of the pupil. Involuntary dilation of the iris...
    Deckard: We call it Voight-Kampff for short.
  • by hedwards (940851) on Tuesday September 13, 2011 @07:45PM (#37393018)

    All this does is change the rules a bit. All of the things they've listed are things which one could train to do or not do on cue. And even without training if it's only good 2/3 of the time that's not good enough to justify deployment.

    • by Zancarius (414244)

      Not only that, but...

      We give our emotions away in our eye movements, dilated pupils, biting or pressing together our lips, wrinkling our noses, breathing heavily, swallowing, blinking and facial asymmetry.

      Most people who are nervous for whatever reason will do at least one or more of those things even when they're not necessarily lying. So, congratulations, you just pegged someone for being nervous!

      • by N1AK (864906)
        Thanks for pointing that out to the 2-3 people who weren't aware of this and didn't assume the reason it is only 2/3rds accurate, as noted in the summary, is because of things like this.
        At 2/3rds accurate, assuming that's from proper testing it's already more reliable than standard polygraphs; as they're already used it doesn't bode well.
    • I suspect that the training to manipulate a normal skin resistance based lie detector, such as a Scientology "e-meter", would apply equally well to this technology. It would be fascinating to run the test against someone trained to such hypnotic responses to questions and see if this tool is as easily manipulated by the same mental and physical techniques.

    • by sjames (1099)

      I have a much cheaper and simpler "lie detector" that manages to be 75% as good as that but costs only $0.01. There is a slightly sturdier model available for $0.25 though it may have a bit of a truth bias.

      This sounds like yet another fine product of Snake Oil LTD. meant to fleece empty headed DHS officials and the taxpayer.

      • by hedwards (940851)

        More or less. I'm not sure what the Israelis do for training their airport security, but I doubt very much that they're hit rate is as low as 2/3 of people they are really looking at.

        Unfortunately, as expensive as this technology is likely to be, it's unlikely to be as expensive as providing proper training to TSA agents and the salaries to retain them.

        • by sjames (1099)

          One fine day in TSA training: No No, No! That's a gumwrapper, see how it smells minty? You want to flip the PENNY, that's the brown metal thing that's shaped like a doughnut without a hole!. Hold on, No Carl, you flip the penny, not the subject!...

    • by Hylandr (813770)

      Specifically, how will this software work when their face is covered with saran wrap and chilled from the water baths?

      - Dan.

    • by gandhi_2 (1108023)

      yes but ~67% of the time, it works every time.

    • And even without training if it's only good 2/3 of the time that's not good enough to justify deployment.

      'Classify as terrrorist / terrorist supporter.'

    • by AmiMoJo (196126)

      Even better train yourself to do them all the time, or at least while they are asking the control questions. Lie detection is relies on detecting changes from the normal truth-telling state, so if you mess that up the whole test is invalid.

  • by blahplusplus (757119) on Tuesday September 13, 2011 @07:45PM (#37393020)

    ... all you have to do is memorize and rehearse lies in advance and imagine them and recall them as if they were memories. People get caught in lies because it's cognitively demanding to make it up on the spot unprepared.

    If you don't believe this consider religious faith. Many people I'm sure believe those falsehoods genuinely because they are well ingrained in their imaginations.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      ... all you have to do is memorize and rehearse lies in advance and imagine them and recall them as if they were memories. People get caught in lies because it's cognitively demanding to make it up on the spot unprepared.

      If you don't believe this consider religious faith. Many people I'm sure believe those falsehoods genuinely because they are well ingrained in their imaginations.

      In which case, it won't be lying anymore, because you genuinely believe it to be true.
      In my humble opinion, lying is only useful when you yourself do not believe the falsehood which you're trying to communicate, resulting in a situation of asymmetrical information. It's called deception, and is widely used in counter-intelligence.

      • "In which case, it won't be lying anymore"

        You still know its a lie so technically it is lying. The point is to get your biology to your mind to adapt in such a way as if you are recalling a valid memory hence the imagination portion of it. Since for many of us we're not taught to lie professionally or practice it. We do it mostly on the spot and while we can dupe others with our 'on the spot lying' the average person doesn't have infinite resources to spend considering whether something is true or a lie.

      • by HornWumpus (783565) on Tuesday September 13, 2011 @09:31PM (#37393840)

        All really good salesmen temporarily believe whatever bullshit they are selling at the time. It's kind of like method acting.

      • by sjames (1099)

        If you rehearse a story in your mind often enough, you can know it's a fiction, yet answer questions about it with confidence from memory, just like the truth.

        A lot of lie detectors and "tells" used by humans are really "thinking too hard" detectors.

    • by artor3 (1344997) on Tuesday September 13, 2011 @08:05PM (#37393180)

      Great job weaving some bigotry and flame-baiting into an otherwise reasonable post.

      • by A beautiful mind (821714) on Tuesday September 13, 2011 @08:19PM (#37393308)
        Saying religion is not some bronze age fairytale and coexisting with the scientific knowledge of the 21st century is something I find deeply offensive.

        It is time we stopped treating fairytales with undeserved respect or reservation.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        It's not bigotry, it's the truth.

        Despite what your mommy told you, you have no "right" to not be made fun of for believing in an invisible sky-daddy.

        • by AdamThor (995520)

          you have no "right" to not be made fun of

          tell that to the guy in the UK who got arrested for deriding the suicide...

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Not bigotry. He chose an apt example that clashes with your worldview. He isn't intolerant of you having that worldview - he just disagrees with you and isn't trying to hide it. You, on the other hand, are being a bigot by attacking him because he doesn't believe in what you believe.

      • by IICV (652597)

        Great job weaving some bigotry and flame-baiting into an otherwise reasonable post.

        If you think the OP is merely "weaving some bigotry and flame-baiting" into his post, then you have clearly never heard of the Doctrine of Mental Reservation, which is pretty much "this is how you should lie for Christianity". Someone well-practiced in that doctrine would probably be harder to detect, because as far as they're concerned they're not actually lying.

    • by Black Parrot (19622) on Tuesday September 13, 2011 @08:11PM (#37393238)

      ... all you have to do is memorize and rehearse lies in advance and imagine them and recall them as if they were memories. People get caught in lies because it's cognitively demanding to make it up on the spot unprepared.

      From what I've read, you're supposed to randomly lie or tell the truth on the easy questions they ask at the start to gauge your response.

      If you don't believe this consider religious faith. Many people I'm sure believe those falsehoods genuinely because they are well ingrained in their imaginations.

      But all my religious beliefs are true; it's only other people's religions that are unfounded.

      • by blair1q (305137)

        >From what I've read, you're supposed to randomly lie or tell the truth on the easy questions they ask at the start to gauge your response.

        Which is not calibrating the machine for what you think it is..

        It's not actually a lie detector so much as a fear detector.

        You don't fear being caught telling the lies you're telling at their request. They're not looking for a range, there. They're baselining the machine, and you.

        Later, when you really do start lying about the things they're going to nail you for, t

      • ... all you have to do is memorize and rehearse lies in advance and imagine them and recall them as if they were memories. People get caught in lies because it's cognitively demanding to make it up on the spot unprepared.

        From what I've read, you're supposed to randomly lie or tell the truth on the easy questions they ask at the start to gauge your response.

        From what I've heard, you're supposed to clench your asshole.

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bScv6kfxRyE [youtube.com]

      • by DRJlaw (946416) on Tuesday September 13, 2011 @09:08PM (#37393688)

        ... all you have to do is memorize and rehearse lies in advance and imagine them and recall them as if they were memories. People get caught in lies because it's cognitively demanding to make it up on the spot unprepared.

        From what I've read, you're supposed to randomly lie or tell the truth on the easy questions they ask at the start to gauge your response.

        From what I've read, you're supposed to shut the hell up and invoke your right to be silent if you're being questioned about things you have done.

        Lying to public officials, especially federal officers, is in and of itself a crime. Lying gives officials facts which they can cross-check. Lying is something that ordinary people are generally bad at, and interrogators know how to get a suspect to move outside their pre-rehearsed alibis.

        Staying silent is not a crime. Staying silent does not allay an official's suspiscion, but cannot be used to convict you of a crime. Staying silent is something that oridinary people are generally bad at, but it's a hell of a lot easier to practice.

        Identify yourself, produce whatever ID you normally carry, and decline to speak about anything else unless you have carefully thought out what you are about to say, know that it is does not tend to indicate that you've committed some sort of crime, and know that it is the truth.

        The rules are quite different if you are being questioned about someone else or what they have done. But that's another story.

    • Don't feed the troll.

    • The Bene Gesserit are unimpressed by your strategy, or the article for that matter.
    • by gatkinso (15975)

      Doesn't really work if you don't know what the questions are ahead of time.

    • Mild sedatives like Xanax? Beta blockers? Anti-depressants? Anything to make the emotional dynamic range lower?

  • It successfully discriminates between truth and lies in about two-thirds of cases

    Slightly better than a coinflip. Just like normal lie detectors.

  • There is a character in that book who had his maid wake him up every morning by saying something like "time to get up you war criminal", so that when the authorities would question him about actually being a war criminal, he was so inured by the accusation that it caused no reaction in him at all - so he could happily deny being a war criminal.
    • There is a character in that book who had his maid wake him up every morning by saying something like "time to get up you war criminal", so that when the authorities would question him about actually being a war criminal, he was so inured by the accusation that it caused no reaction in him at all - so he could happily deny being a war criminal.

      So maybe that's why Mom used to always say, "Get up, you slacker!"

    • by blair1q (305137)

      The author did not understand psychopaths at all.

  • Quick! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by olsmeister (1488789) on Tuesday September 13, 2011 @07:50PM (#37393072)
    Get this ready in time for the Presidential debates.
    • Re:Quick! (Score:4, Funny)

      by gewalker (57809) <Gary DOT Walker AT AstraDigital DOT com> on Tuesday September 13, 2011 @08:00PM (#37393134)

      Sad, but true. They tried this with an early prototype in 2008. Within 5 minutes it was engulfed in flames and set back the research by nearly 2 years.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      We've already covered Blade Runner, but that's OK. I was actually thinking more along the lines of 1984:

      "It was terribly dangerous to let your thoughts wander when you were in any public place or within range of a telescreen. The smallest thing could give you away. A nervous tic, an unconscious look of anxiety, a habit of muttering to yourself, anything that carried with it the suggestion of abnormality, of having something to hide. In any case, to wear an improper expression on your face, was itsel

  • by stox (131684) on Tuesday September 13, 2011 @08:04PM (#37393160) Homepage

    It will be illegal to use this on politicians.

    • by Black Parrot (19622) on Tuesday September 13, 2011 @08:07PM (#37393194)

      It will be illegal to use this on politicians.

      We already have a visual lie detecting algorithm for politicians: "Their mouth is moving."

      • by sjames (1099)

        They don't need to move their mouths to lie. The smile is a lie covering a sneer of derision. The suit is a lie, the handshake is a lie. Any form of interaction at all is a lie.

        Behind the thin but perfect veneer of an upstanding everyman lies a monster.

  • So... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Black Parrot (19622) on Tuesday September 13, 2011 @08:06PM (#37393182)

    It successfully discriminates between truth and lies in about two-thirds of cases

    Does that mean you might be found 2/3 guilty of a crime, or will they roll a die and send you to prison on 1-4 ?

  • I always wondered, how do lie detectors separate liars from awkward people? I know a lot of people with low confidence (including myself) that gets very nervous when talking to some people. I would assume even more nervous when being monitored or tested actively.

    How do operators of such devices define the proper thresholds for every individual?

    • by PPH (736903)

      I've always wondered how lie detectors separate truthful people from sociopaths.

      • by gatkinso (15975)

        There are very effective psychological screenings for sociopaths, polygraph not being one of them.

        While I was a contractor candidate and did not go through this, government candidates (to NSA) are subject to a psychological battery of tests (well they used to be anyway).

        I suppose if they find a sociopath they forward your resume along to the CIA. Who knows.

    • They don't and that is their dirty little secret. Nervous? Well, the machine says you are a liar. Have a nice life, now that it has been confirmed by technology.

      Go read up on how they work, its a fucking joke. The fact they are used by groups like the FBI is a national embarrassment.
      • by gatkinso (15975)

        >> The fact they are used by groups like the FBI is a national embarrassment.

        Is it?

        Take it from a guy who sat in a little room at NSA for several hours hooked up to one: that process is damn effective.... the fact that the machine is a prop matters not a wit. The real lie detector is sitting behind the desk and isn't a lie detector at all: they simply get you to spill your guts.

        • Oh man that sucks. Airport sec or something like that?

    • How do operators of such devices define the proper thresholds for every individual?

      Fabricated on the spot based on the operator's whim because they are running a scam, of course.

    • I always wondered, how do lie detectors separate liars from awkward people?

      They don't. They are designed to detect "reactions" which may be due to feeling guilty about something.

      I took a lie detector test once when I was in High School. I was taking a "Behavioral Science" class and, one day, the police showed up to talk to us about "lie detectors" and how they work. One of the things he explained was that it doesn't really detect lies. It detects a reaction to a question. A skilled officer can use this information to consider areas of questioning that may lead to information.

  • Control, true and false answers will all produce the same blushing response at random. Good luck with the rest of the population though!

  • It successfully discriminates between truth and lies in about two-thirds of cases

    So it's even less effective than other "lie detectors" that don't work well enough to use for anything important.

  • We give our emotions away in our [...] wrinkling our noses

    Let me guess: someone's been hitting The Adventures of Pinocchio too hard.

  • Wake me up when it gets to 99%.

    Unless I'm mistaken, 66% accuracy is ridiculously shitty.

    • by gatkinso (15975)

      The fact that it is better than chance is quite remarkable, actually.

      If it actually performs as stated that is.

      • I think that by chance a precise 50.0000000000% success rate would be more strange than a 66% one.

        If I flip a coin thirty times and get twenty heads, would you presume that the coin is unfair? Would that really be so statistically bizarre? No. A precise 15 out of 30 would be much more bizarre, despite that there is a 50% chance of receiving a head on each flip.

        I'm not saying that this device isn't measuring real physical reactions in some way, I'm just saying that they seem to correlate with truth/lies no b

    • Hey it's better than TSA's record. Let them ask the questions "are you a terrorist?", "do you intend to perform acts against the interests of the United States?", etc. while being monitored by this system. It surely beats the voyeurism, and sexual molestation. If they really have to behave as sexual predators let them, but only on those individuals that have first failed the Q&A session.
  • Having been through US immigration recently, I can attest that "Fear can sometimes be the fear of not being believed rather than the fear of being caught." is putting it mildly. The TSA goon managed to misinterpret me so many times that I started to doubt my own story. He was either a genius, or a tard, but either way he didn't seem even remotely human, so if we can replace him with a very small shell script, go to it.
  • Even if we were able to create a 100% accurate lie detector, would using it be moral?

    I'm not sure, but I have doubts.

    • Re:Lie Detectors (Score:4, Insightful)

      by royallthefourth (1564389) <royallthefourth@gmail.com> on Tuesday September 13, 2011 @09:48PM (#37393918)

      Which, of course, raises plenty of important epistemological concerns: chiefly, what is a lie? Perhaps we could say it is speaking with the intent to deceive. But in what way is the speaker attempting to deceive, which pieces of information does he actually wish to conceal and which bits of misinformation are merely the detritus of a twisted story?

      Even if an actual lie detector were to exist, it would be up to the operator to decide what it means. Nobody is really prepared to deal with that sort of weighty thinking on a consistently sound basis, especially not a policeman or a judge.

    • Re:Lie Detectors (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Eskarel (565631) on Tuesday September 13, 2011 @09:50PM (#37393924)

      I suppose it depends on what questions you ask.

      It would certainly be open for abuse, but so is a pipe wrench. You could use a 100% accurate lie detector to invade someone's privacy for sure, but if you stuck to questions like "Are you planning on killing anyone today?" or "Did you kill that person?" you'd probably be fine. Especially since you wouldn't actually need to have a person in the room if you had a 100% accurate lie detector. You need a person now because interrogation requires instinct, but with a machine that could actually detect truth or lies and the right questions you could put someone in a room, have the machine ask them a preselected list of questions and then let them out if they're fine.

      You couldn't take people out of the equation entirely of course as you'd need them for answering "Why did you kill that person?".

      You'd definitely have to be careful about fishing expeditions, and with a much higher solve rate people would be a lot more careful about what they allowed to become law in the first place, but there's nothing inherently unethical about asking someone if they committed or are planning on committing a specific crime and being able to rely on the answer.

      • by janimal (172428)

        How would this lie detector react to someone blaming themselves for a death, but being otherwise innocent in the face of the law and reason? They will say no, but will they believe it?

  • You should refuse to give statements to police and prosecutors. Your words will be twisted in order to convict you. They are much more interested in winning a case than finding the truth.
  • by tsotha (720379) on Tuesday September 13, 2011 @10:01PM (#37393996)
    Two thirds? Most women can do that without any fancy equipment.
  • by Dunbal (464142) *

    It successfully discriminates between truth and lies in about two-thirds of cases

    Yeah, it only detects when normal people are lying and it doesn't work at all when sociopaths, psychopaths and habitual liars are lying - because these people feel no shame when they lie or might even believe their lie to be true and thus don't have a vasomotor response. But sure, feel free to re-invent the polygraph. Only you are not addressing the basic flaw in designing the "lie detector machine": the people who are really good at lying are most likely the ones you want to catch, and by definition they a

  • And thus ended remakes of Monty Python's Dead Parrot Sketch.
  • The world's most perfect lie detector will fail to detect the world's most perfect liars.

    Worse, the machine will assure us that those who are not liars, are good and honest men and women.

    And we're supposed to trust this machine?

  • Had a Lie Detector, that measured your brain waves. It was used routinely in court. It is no longer under copyright, so it is free (or should be) on most of the e-readers or on the web.

He keeps differentiating, flying off on a tangent.

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