Will Big Data Stop Us from Lying?

LyingEven little white lies may be tougher to get away with as big data and analytics continue to advance. Forbes reports on loads of technology in place or in development to keep honesty front in center. A few examples from wearable devices and smartphones include:

  • Car insurance companies tracking actual driving habits of customers
  • Hospitals monitoring  health habits of their patients
  • Parents checking in on whereabouts and activities of their teens
  • Human resource departments easily verifying graduation records, past employment and other application info

And that’s not the only data being collected and stored somewhere, somehow. Some systems are even able to track how you fill out an online application to watch for signs of fraud. If you suddenly change your answer on an auto insurance application to get a cheaper rate, for instance, the system can flag your response as suspicious.

Who Caused the Accident?

Smartphones and other gadgets may also begin to play a more prominent role in car accident investigations. The GPS trackers, light and accelerometer sensors and other advanced sensors in our smartphones make it possible for analysts to discern where we were, how fast we were moving – and if we had been texting at the time of the crash. Authorities would then be able to rely on data from gadgets that don’t lie instead of statements from drivers who may.

Social Media Rumor vs. Truth

Social media lies can also be rampant and result in severe consequences.  In 2013, hackers accessed the Associated Press Twitter account, spreading rumors the White House was hit with two explosions and the President was injured. The rumor went viral, Wall Street responded, and the Dow plummeted 140 points.

Lie Detection Innovations

A few larger projects are aimed at keeping us honest, whether we’re posting on social media, being monitored by authorities or crossing the border.

Pheme: Funded by the European Union, this big data project joins partners from the fields of text mining, natural language processing, social network analysis, information visualization and web science. The goal is to create and release open-source algorithms we can use to detect mistruths, especially online.

CVSA: Officially known as computer voice stress analysis and approved by a federal court ruling, this lie-detecting technology can be used to monitor sex offenders as part of their supervised release.

AVATAR: Officially called Automated Virtual Agent for Truth Assessments in Real-Time, this screening system was developed by the University of Arizona’s National Center for Border Security and Immigration. It uses non-invasive sensors and an automated interview to rapidly analyze document and biometric data, such as pupil dilation and voice pitch, which can indicate deception.

While some of the innovations are still in development or being used for specific applications, it’s likely only a matter of time until they spread to more widespread use.

Some people may never stop lying, but Big Data will continue to be used to discourage untruths.