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Nyet! Russian ATMs can tell if you're lying

Russia's largest bank is trying out ATMs that automatically analyze your voice when you apply for a credit card to see if you're telling the truth.

Sbernank card terminal
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev (right) stands near a Sberbank card terminal during a visit to a Moscow office in February. Sberbank is testing ATMs that incorporate voice analysis. Mikhail Klimentyev/AFP/Getty Images/Newscom

Don't you hate it when ATMs refuse to do what you want, like give you cash in an emergency when you're overseas? Well, prototype ATMs in Russia come with built-in lie detectors that can reject customers who aren't telling the truth.

Major retail bank Sberbank is testing out an ATM that can automatically process credit card applications. It incorporates a voice-analysis system that can determine when someone is lying.

Sberbank has set up the prototype at its Branch of the Future showpiece branch in Moscow. The machine takes passport, fingerprint, and face scans, and asks questions such as "Are you employed?" and "At this moment, do you have any other outstanding loans?"

Speech Technology Center developed the software, which can detect nervousness and distress just like a polygraph. It measures the tone and pacing of speech to detect involuntary changes.

The algorithms were partly based on police interrogations in which the subjects were found to be hiding the truth.

The center also works for the domestic intelligence service; Sberbank is majority-owned by the government.

The ATMs would be the first of their kind to use voice analysis to identify deceit, according to technology consultants quoted by The New York Times. The technology is being deployed in a bid to reduce consumer credit fraud. It was prompted by the global financial crisis.

The center says the technology is "no more invasive than checking a credit history," according to the newspaper.

"We are not violating a client's privacy," the Times quoted Sberbank's Victor M. Orlovsky as saying. "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."