A Utah Company Says It’s Revolutionized Truth-telling Technology. Experts Are Highly Skeptical.

Is the ocular product EyeDetect a leap ahead of the polygraph? Or just the same dubiousness in a more high-tech box? From a report: In 2018, John Rael, a volunteer track coach in Taos, N.M., was on trial for allegedly raping a 14-year-old girl when his lawyer made an unusual request. He wanted the judge to admit evidence from "EyeDetect," a lie-detection test based on eye movements that Rael had passed. The judge agreed, and five of the 12 jurors wound up voting not to convict. A mistrial was declared. EyeDetect is the product of the Utah company Converus. "Imagine if you could exonerate the innocent and identify the liars ... just by looking into their eyes," the company's YouTube channel promises. "Well, now you can!" Its chief executive, Todd Mickelsen, says they've built a better truth-detection mousetrap; he believes eye movements reflect their bearer far better than the much older and mostly discredited polygraph. Its popularity may be growing: the company says EyeDetect has gone from 500 customers in 2019 to 600 now. Its critics, however, say the EyeDetect is just the polygraph in more algorithmic clothing. The machine is fundamentally unable to deliver on its claims, they argue, because human truth-telling is too subtle for any data set. And they worry that relying on it can lead to tragic outcomes, like punishing the innocent or providing a cloak for the guilty. EyeDetect raises a question that draws all the way back to the Garden of Eden: Are humans so wired to tell the truth we'll give ourselves away when we don't? And, to a more 21st-century query: Can modern technology come up with the tools to detect those tells? An EyeDetect test has a subject placed in front of a monitor with a digital camera and, as with the polygraph, lobbed generically true-false queries like "have you ever hurt anybody" to establish a baseline. Then come specific questions. If the subject's physical responses are more demonstrative there, they are presumed to be lying; less demonstrative, they're telling the truth.

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