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Future Polygraphs may be Conducted by Robots

Polygraph test in an office while sitting in a chair.

Polygraph tests are time-consuming, expensive, and labor-intensive. They require a specialist to sit down with an interviewee, spend time hooking them up to a machine, then bombarding them with questions while trying to pick up on any evidence that the subject is lying. Where optimization is concerned, this system is far from perfect. But now, according to the Washington Times, that may change.

A new study has determined that computers may be able to deliver and analyze polygraph tests as well as any human. The study was conducted by the National Center for Credibility Assessment, originally an Army program designed to teach the proper method of using a polygraph.

The tests were completed using volunteers from the U.S. Army, and the results suggest that computer-delivered polygraphs might be more effective all-around than their human-delivered counterparts. During the study, volunteers were hooked up to polygraphs by an instructor, and then told that they would be interviewed by a digital avatar.

According to the technology blog Motherboard, "Volunteers in the study were significantly more likely to disclose alcohol use and mental health issues to the avatar than to [a] questionnaire. Responses for drug use and criminal charges were about the same."

If this data can be repeated, applicants to security clearances may very well be interviewed by computers in the near future. Although volunteers seemed more pliable to questions involving personal issues over criminal concerns, future clearance applicants should rest easy: the avatar is in no way able to manipulate individuals into responding in any way that might hamper their ability to attain a security clearance or be employed in a job that requires one.

Whether or not your new robotic test proctors fit into your future, don't stress: check out Military.com's guide to passing the polygraph, and you'll be just fine.

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