Would You Use a Lie Detector ATM Built By the Ex-KGB?

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In Soviet Russia...oh heck. This will give our Russian ATM-axeman friend more cause for grief. Designed to prevent fraud, the ATMs helps new customers sign up for a credit card, asking questions and assessing their honesty by their verbal vibrations.

It can also scan the future customer's passport, record fingerprints and even take a 3D scan of their noggin, for facial recognition. While many things in Russia sound like offshoots of a former time when the KGB ran the streets, these talking ATMs are actually from the loins of the KGB—the same company that developed technology for the Federal Security Service, which the KGB started.


As you'd expect, this means the Speech Technology Center has a range of recordings at their disposal, which they've put to good use in developing the technology. Comparing recordings of spies who were proven to be lying in police interrogations, for example, has helped them with the algorithm for this lie-detector ATM, which will be situated in malls and bank branches.

Some of the questions the ATM asks of the customer include lines about their employment, and whether they have any outstanding loans, but it also goes as far as assessing if the person sounds nervous or distressed.


Rather than use the ATMs to gather information on the public for government use (they claim the voice recordings will be stored on a customer's credit card, rather than in a database—though they don't specify what will happen to the recordings of those who are denied a card), they simply wish to ensure that the country is not too generous with its loans, to avoid another recession. Only one bank has signed up for the ATMs as yet, Sberbank, but incidentally this is also the bank which is mostly owned by...the Russian government.

Sberbank's Vice President defended the ATM, telling the NY Times that they "are not violating a client's privacy. We are not climbing into the client's brain. We aren't invading their personal lives. We are just trying to find out if they are telling the truth. I don't see any reason to be alarmed." [NY Times]