An end to phone pranking

Logan Kellogg/U.S. Coast Guard

A researcher at Carnegie Mellon University has developed an intelligent system that is helping the U.S. Coast Guard to distinguish and weed out prank mayday calls that cost it up to millions of dollars a year when it flies or motors out on pointless rescue missions, per

The program, created by Carnegie Mellon's Rita Singh, creates a barcode of a person's voice, deciphering whether the caller really is on a boat or actually in a house somewhere. It can unmask repeat pranksters since it can pick up telltale markers and match them up.

Why it matters: The applications of Singh's software — painting a profile of a person's voice through traits barely detectable to humans — are wide, including police situations such as abductions, she told Axios. She tells Govtech, "We have techniques to automatically discover information in the voice signal that humans cannot discover. Our hearing is not that good, but that doesn't mean that the information is not there in the voice."