Thursday, July 01, 2004

This Really Scares Me

According to this ad over 1,400 law-enforcement agencies and over 5,000 investigators are currently using this device, which allegedly can not only tell if you are being truthful or not, but can also determine a number of other emotional states, such as fear and sexual arousal. Yikes!

But don't worry. It's only available(in the USA) to certified government agencies and officials thereof. Let's examine this.

Is every one of these 5,000 agents completely trust-worthy? Are they required to submit to the same scrutiny as their interrogees?

If this technology really does work, it's only a matter of time before it hits the private sector. UK insurance firms are already using it to weed out fraudulent claims. Can US firms be far behind? I think not.

Before long, some (un)civic-minded entrepreneur is going to develop a smaller, commercially available version for consumer use, probably something built into a cell-phone if current trends continue. This would almost certainly lead to a total breakdown of our already tenuous social fabric.

Imagine being confronted with a polygraph test at a job interview. You might as well show up wearing a fright-wig and a loin-cloth. What if your date could just "scan" you and find out that their presence inspires pure animal lust? Or nausea? Or both?
What if your boss could do this?

Instead of various lip and tongue piercing, persons of all sorts would opt to have their mouths sewn permanently shut in order to avoid answering any questions, ever. Living with a feeding-tube would become preferable to a lifetime of mandatory honesty.

There'd be 12-step groups for chronic liars. "Hello, my name is so-and-so and everything I say is total bull-shit."
"Hello, so-and-so. Fuck you for sharing."

No one would ever get elected to any public office again. Dictatorships would become even more popular.

Just answering polite rhetorical questions would require long-winded explanations and a vast barrage of unnecessary details:

"How are you today"?
"I'm fine, thanks". (Red lights and buzzer-noise)
"Liar. My Emo-Scan says you feel anxiety and a wee bit of fear. Why?"
"I'm afraid I might not be able to resist the urge to strangle you with my bare hands. The thought of my resulting incarceration makes me tense and anxious." (Green Light).
"I knew it. After all, isn't honesty always the best policy?"
(Red lights and buzzer-sound).


Lyzard said...

FYI... It is illegal for employers (with the exception of government and law enforcement agencies and a few others realted to security of Health and Safety and drugs) to use a polygraph test on employees or prospective employees for any reason. There is a quick guide to the laws surrounding polygraph usage both on a federal and state level here:

Also, the American Polygraph Association has an entire page dedicated to Voice Stress Analysis. (

Uyanga said...

This will add SUCH an important dimension to this job. Now if an operator calls in about high pressure on his 8" main, I'll know whether he's talking about a water line or something else. O__o

Allan said...

I am very much aware of this. I've been a Federal agent (Dept. of Commerce, not law-enforcement) and I've also had a bit of experience with our wonderful Correctional System. Which involved a polygraph test. I passed it.

A lot of things are illegal, not to mention Unconstitutional, but it doesn't stop people from doing them.

If an American citizen can be held indefinitely, on the whim of Bush or Ashcroft,without cause and without access to legal counsel, I am certain that the Employee Polygraph Protection Act isn't worth the soiled toilet paper it's printed on.

But I'm a self-admitted paranoid conspiracy theorist, so I'm probably just delusional as well.

Anonymous said...

If we all refuse to talk, I am sure they'll come up with some "neuro" type scanner to read our unspoken emotions. At that point, our only means of communication will become gestures, grunts, and email.

PS - this is Beth - if you are around right now, give me a call at work.

Allan said...

I am and I did. Call me back before five, or after 5:30 at home. I wanna see the Moore movie even it means standing in a long-ass line!