John Rael, a volunteer track coach in Taos, New Mexico, was on trial in 2018 for the alleged rape of a 14-year-old girl. His defence attorney made a curious request during the trial. Rael had previously passed a lie detector exam based on eye movements, and he hoped the judge would consider this evidence.
Five of the original twelve jurors ended up voting not to convict, and the judge concurred. This trial has been declared a mistrial.
Company Skeptical Says it Revolutionized Truthtelling
Converus, based out of Utah, is the firm behind EyeDetect. The company’s YouTube page says, “Imagine if you could exonerate the innocent and identify the liars… merely by looking into their eyes.” “Now you can, at last!” The company’s CEO, Todd Mickelsen, is confident that his innovation in lie detection will replace the antiquated and widely ridiculed polygraph.
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However, its detractors argue that the EyeDetect is only the polygraph dressed in fancier algorithmic garb. Because human truth-telling is too nuanced for any data set, they believe, the machine is inherently unable to deliver on its claims.
Concerned that its overuse would lead to tragedy, whether by unfairly punishing the innocent or covering the guilty, its proponents urge caution. The issue that EyeDetect poses has roots in the
Very Beginning of Human History
Are we, as a species, so hardwired to speak the truth that we reveal our true selves when we lie? Now, a question more relevant to the twenty-first century: may we expect technological innovation to yield methods for identifying such giveaways?
A digital camera and monitor are used in an EyeDetect exam, much like the polygraph, and the subject is asked a series of true-false questions such “have you ever hurt anybody?” to establish trustworthiness.
Then comes the detailed interrogation. The individual is assumed to be lying if their physical responses are more demonstrative there, and to be telling the truth if they are less demonstrative.
Still, there are many knowledgeable people who remain unconvinced. There is no method to link eye movements to lying, as pointed out by Saxe and many other scientists and academicians. The fact that the person is anxious about performing poorly on an exam may account for any differences.
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Deception cannot be gauged by worrying about being found out, he explained. The root of the problem may lie in the 21st century’s drive to automate and digitise a process (in this example, human emotion and motivation) that inherently resists the enterprise.
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