Today I'm going to talk about a very special kind of person. Psychologists call them "masters of deception," those rare individuals with a natural ability to tell with complete confidence when someone is telling a lie.
For decades, researchers and law enforcement agencies have tried to build a machine that will do the same thing.
Now a company in Massachusetts says that by using magnetic brain scans they can determine with 97% accuracy whether someone is telling the truth.
They hope that the technology will be cleared for use in American courts by early next year. But is this really the ultimate tool for you, the lawyers of tomorrow?
You'll not find many brain scientists celebrating this breakthrough.
The company might be very optimistic, but the ability of their machine to detect deception has not provided credible proof.
That's because the technology has not been properly tested in real-world situations. In life, there are different kinds of lies and diverse context in which they're told.
These differences may elicit different brain responses. Does their hypothesis behind the test apply in every case?
We don't know the answer, because studies done on how reliable this machine is have not yet been duplicated. Much more research is badly needed.
Whether the technology is eventually deemed reliable enough for the courts will ultimately be decided by the judges.
Let's hope they're wise enough not to be fooled by a machine that claims to determine truthfulness at the flick of a switch.
They should also be sceptical of the growing tendency to try to reduce all human traits and actions to the level of brain activity. Often, they do not map that easily.
Moreover, understanding the brain is not the same as understanding the mind. Some researchers have suggested that thoughts cannot properly be seen as purely "internal."
Instead, thoughts make sense only in reference to the individual's external world.
So while there may be insights to be gained from matching behavior to brain activity, those insights will not necessarily lead to justice in a court of law.
Problems surround the use of machines to spot deception, at least until it has been rigorously tested.
A high-tech test that can tell when a person is not telling the truth sounds too good to be true. And when something sounds too good to be true, it usually is.
Questions 16 to 18 are based on the recording you have just heard.
请根据你刚刚听到的录音回答16 - 18题
16. What have researchers and law enforcement agencies tried to do?
17. How do many brain scientists respond to the Massachusetts company's so-called technological breakthrough?
18. What does the speaker think of using a high-tech test to determine whether a person is telling the truth?