Mar 20, 2019

An online lie detector

Polygraph result from an interview with Jack Ruby. Photo: National Archives/Corbis/Getty

Researchers at Florida State University and Stanford are developing an "online polygraph" that detects lies in text — without the contextual clues that can hint at deception in a face-to-face conversation.

Details: In experiments, the researchers found that liars used more florid prose and often expressed certainty, while truth-tellers responded more slowly and with words like "perhaps," "guess" and "could." They designed a machine learning system that can pick up on these subtle cues to correctly separate out liars from truth-tellers about three-quarters of the time. The results were published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior.

"You could use it for online dating, Facebook, Twitter — the applications are endless," says FSU researcher Shuyuan Ho, the paper's lead author, in an article published by the university.

Our thought bubble: The accuracy of old-school polygraphs — the ones that output the seismic wiggles seen above — has long been in question. A new test would have to clear a high bar to prove that it's not calibrated only to a certain group of people. It also provokes thorny ethical questions about the prospect of automatic deception-monitoring in online spaces.

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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The backlash against Big Tech has long flourished among pundits and policymakers, but a new survey suggests it's beginning to show up in popular opinion as well.

Driving the news: New data from Edelman out Tuesday finds that trust in tech companies is declining and that people trust cutting-edge technologies like artificial intelligence less than they do the industry overall.

"It was 30 years ago, get over it": Mike Bloomberg's partner brushes off NDA concerns

Diana Taylor at a Mike Bloomberg event last month. Photo: Ron Adar/Echoes Wire/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

Diana Taylor, Mike Bloomberg's longtime partner, dismissed the concerns surrounding non-disclosure agreements used at his company, Bloomberg LP, telling CBS News that she would say to those bothered by the allegations, "It was 30 years ago, get over it."

Why it matters: Democratic candidates have used the NDAs as a talking point against Bloomberg, calling on him to allow women to speak about the reported sexual harassment and gender discrimination they faced while working for him.

Trump's opportunity to use Bernie as an economic scapegoat

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photos: Zach Gibson/Stringer, The Washington Post/Getty Contributor

Bernie Sanders is poised to become an economic scapegoat for both the White House and Corporate America, assuming that Sanders comes through Super Tuesday unscathed.

The big picture: If the U.S. economy remains strong, President Trump and CEOs will claim credit (as they've been doing for three years). If it turns sour, they'll blame Bernie (even though it's a largely baseless charge).