- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 22, 2014

American citizens vying for national security clearances in the future can expect a barrage of questions, but not from humans. Instead, it’s likely that they’ll be going face-to-face with an on-screen avatar during the initial stages of the selection process.

The National Center for Credibility Assessment, originally established in 1951 as the U.S. Army Polygraph School, recently published results from one of its studies in the journal Computers in Human Behavior that indicate computer-generated interviews can be successful, Vice’s technology blog Motherboard reported Tuesday.

The study found that not only can such programs be less “time-consuming, labor-intensive and costly to the Federal Government,” but that interview subjects are in fact more likely to admit certain things to a robot.

U.S. Army basic trainees were used for the NCAA’s study. They were hooked up to machines that measured heart and skin responses and then told they would be interviewed by a computer avatar, Motherboard reported.

“Volunteers in the study were significantly more likely to disclose alcohol use and mental health issues to the avatar than to [a] questionnaire,” the website reported. “Responses for drug use and criminal charges were about the same.”

In short, the researchers found that many aspects of the interview process can be outsourced to computers.

SEE ALSO: Obey: Pentagon research indicates social media can be used to control people like robots

The NCAA bills itself as “the government’s premiere educational center for polygraph and other credibility assessment technologies and techniques.” It has assisted federal agencies in the protection of U.S. citizens for over 60 years.

• Douglas Ernst can be reached at dernst@washingtontimes.com.

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