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Researchers Design Bot To Conduct National Security Clearance Interviews

Unknown Lamer posted about 3 months ago | from the why-do-you-say-you-are-not-a-threat-to-national-security? dept.

AI 102

meghan elizabeth (3689911) writes Advancing a career in the U.S. government might soon require an interview with a computer-generated head who wants to know about that time you took ketamine. A recent study by psychologists at the National Center for Credibility Assessment, published in the journal Computers and Human Behavior, asserts that not only would a computer-generated interviewer be less "time consuming, labor intensive, and costly to the Federal Government," people are actually more likely to admit things to the bot. Eliza finds a new job.

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Hello Dave (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47515863)

That's good, now tell me about your mother Dave...

Re:Hello Dave (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47515973)

Dave? Dave's not here, man.

.

Re:Hello Dave (1)

Chris Mattern (191822) | about 3 months ago | (#47516077)

That's good, now tell me about your mother Dave...

My mother's name wasn't Dave.

Re:Hello Dave (1)

cellocgw (617879) | about 3 months ago | (#47516339)

That's good, now tell me about your mother Dave...

My mother's name wasn't Dave.

Says the boy named "Sue."

Re:Hello Dave (1)

MobSwatter (2884921) | about 3 months ago | (#47516317)

Maybe soon there will be robot consumers, then maybe they won't be forcing us to buy crap all the time.

Re:Hello Dave (1)

Bing Tsher E (943915) | about 3 months ago | (#47516459)

I'd love there to be robot consumers, soaking up about 70% of Google's capability to hurl ads at us.

Hello Leon (4, Funny)

Ambitwistor (1041236) | about 3 months ago | (#47516509)

Let me tell you about my mother. [blam!]

"Reply Hazy . . . Try Again" (1)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | about 3 months ago | (#47516903)

I don't see why they can't do this with the Magic 8-Ball.

Siri, I am tripping balls right now! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47515877)

How does that make you feel?

Brought to you by the same people (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47515897)

...that believe in magic, like the Polygraph test being "scientifically" valid.

The researchers concluded, in so many words, that national security clearance interviews can totally be outsourced to a computer-generated agent. That’s not an empty recommendation: The NCCA grew out of the Department of Defense Polygraph Institute and is still responsible for “lie detection” training for all branches of government. It's also tasked with developing new technologies for credibility assessment.

Re:Brought to you by the same people (3, Insightful)

Em Adespoton (792954) | about 3 months ago | (#47516155)

This is a murky field. A polygraph does present useful information; it's just not necessarily whether the person is telling the truth. The major decision part of any polygraph system is the operator, and they need to have sp,e training in physical psychology to be predictably any good at using the equipment.

Seems to me that this new system falls into the same category. They'll be able to get some new data that would have been obscured before, but the interpretation of the data will still require an expert.

Personally, I think this is better than leaving it up to a human, as the human mind has known defects during the data acquisition phase -- these systems don't have those weaknesses, and while they can't draw any conclusions, they gather a different (and in some cases more complete) set of information than a human by themselves would gather.

The problem comes when people conflate the results of the tests with factual certainty -- both systems require interpretation, and as we all know, statistics lie 99.8% of the time.

Re:Brought to you by the same people (0)

HornWumpus (783565) | about 3 months ago | (#47516199)

Surely you can point us to a double blind study to quantify lie detector effectiveness?

They don't exist? Because it's all just a prop to trick you into telling on yourself. No different than a copying machine set to produce pages that say 'he's lying'.

It is an effective prop. But only for the uninformed.

Re:Brought to you by the same people (3, Informative)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 3 months ago | (#47516425)

Surely you can point us to a double blind study to quantify lie detector effectiveness? They don't exist?

Yes they do. The Wikipedia page [wikipedia.org] lists several. What they find is that polygraphs work better than chance, but below perfection. They certainly don't provide the level of "beyond a reasonable doubt" required in a criminal court, and they can be fooled by a someone trained to deceive them. But for most people, they work most of the time. That is good enough for their use as a first level screening device. You would be an idiot to blindly accept their results, but you would also be an idiot to ignore the results completely.

It is an effective prop. But only for the uninformed.

Wrong. It takes more than just being "informed". To trick a polygraph takes training. So how many moles hoping to infiltrate the FBI are going to respond to a Craigslist ad for "Polygraph Deception Training"? Guess who places those ads.

Re:Brought to you by the same people (1)

king neckbeard (1801738) | about 3 months ago | (#47516517)

They are better than chance if the individual is untrained at countermeasures and has no other conditions that might affect the test. Countermeasures are pretty easy to learn and widely available, with killing the placebo effect being a pretty good way to tip the scales by itself. Since a security clearance exists to prevent exactly that kind of person from having access to state secrets, they are useless to the point that giving them any kind of trust is a bigger threat to national security than most of the people we drone strike, not to mention the reality of excluding possible skilled candidates.

Re:Brought to you by the same people (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | about 3 months ago | (#47516541)

If you need practice taking polygraphs, there are many companies that will do them for you. Just don't tell them you are practicing. Tell them you suspect an employee is smoking pot etc then go in yourself.

Did you read your own cite? It doesn't say what you claim it does. It says the opposite.

Re:Brought to you by the same people (1)

david_thornley (598059) | about 3 months ago | (#47518471)

A polygraph can be good at determining if somebody's nervous, which is not a good indicator of truthfulness. It might be useful in questioning or interrogation by telling the interrogator when to press and when to let slide. This assumes that the guy being interrogated can't manipulate the machine into inaccurate readings, such as showing nervousness when being asked about something basically innocuous.

Re:Brought to you by the same people (1)

MaskedSlacker (911878) | about 3 months ago | (#47519663)

This is a murky field. A polygraph does present useful information; it's just not necessarily whether the person is telling the truth. The major decision part of any polygraph system is the operator, and they need to have sp,e training in physical psychology to be predictably any good at using the equipment.

That's nice bullshit sandwich wrapped in pseudo-science bread you've got there.

Polygraphs only work in the way that swinging a five dollar wrench at someone works. It convinces them to tell you what you want to know on their own because their afraid of it. That's it.

The phrase "He failed/passed a polygraph" is the biggest load of shit in "law enforcement."

Re:Brought to you by the same people (1)

Em Adespoton (792954) | about 3 months ago | (#47520589)

This is a murky field. A polygraph does present useful information; it's just not necessarily whether the person is telling the truth. The major decision part of any polygraph system is the operator, and they need to have sp,e training in physical psychology to be predictably any good at using the equipment.

That's nice bullshit sandwich wrapped in pseudo-science bread you've got there.

I disagree. As I stated, polygraph machines are NOT lie detectors; the fact that they've been popularized in this way is beside the point.

Polygraphs only work in the way that swinging a five dollar wrench at someone works. It convinces them to tell you what you want to know on their own because their afraid of it. That's it.

No; that's the way that polygraphs are usually used by government and law enforcement to get the answer they want. Polygraphs actually WORK by measuring your vitals and recording the information change over time. There's a huge difference there.

And pretty soon, those health bands everyone's starting to wear will be indistinguishable from polygraphs; the only real difference being application and interpretation.

The phrase "He failed/passed a polygraph" is the biggest load of shit in "law enforcement."

I disagree here too -- it is totally eclipsed by the phrases "he was obstructing justice!" and "that DNA evidence proves it."

These days, polygraphs are much more abused by government on government employees than they are on civilians by law enforcement. But the LE abuses are the worse of the two I agree, as they're performed against people who have no choice.

Is it going to tell me about its mother? (1)

NotDrWho (3543773) | about 3 months ago | (#47515903)

Them interviewing us? Always thought it would be the other way around.

Re:Is it going to tell me about its mother? (2)

Frigga's Ring (1044024) | about 3 months ago | (#47515923)

We already know they're robots. You, we're not so sure of.

Robo-Polygraph? (2)

Joe Gillian (3683399) | about 3 months ago | (#47515915)

From the Vice article, this sounds a lot like a robotic polygraph - the article directly mentions using "electrodes to measure cardiographic and electrodermal responses".. which is essentially what a polygraph does. I can't imagine that a robot will be any more effective at applying baseless pseudoscience than a human would - in fact, I wouldn't be surprised if the number of people who have their careers ruined due to a failed polygraph is higher with the robot than with a human "interpreter".

Wouldn't it be much more efficient to just eliminate the polygraph altogether?

Re:Robo-Polygraph? (3, Insightful)

i kan reed (749298) | about 3 months ago | (#47515977)

You've got a mistake here.

Polygraphs aren't "baseless pseudoscience"

They're "Extremely unreliable devices based on a mixture of pseudoscientific assumptions and real biometrics". And the CIA isn't a court of law. They're aren't interested in finding the truth beyond a reasonable doubt. They're interested in pressuring you to tell them everything you can.

Re:Robo-Polygraph? (2)

serviscope_minor (664417) | about 3 months ago | (#47516153)

They're interested in pressuring you to tell them everything you can.

No, they really seem to believe in the polygraphs. I know someone who was turned down for a job because the polygraph people thought she was lying about having never taken drugs. Knowing her it seemed remarkably unlikely that she had actually taken them.

Basically they're filtering out all applicants who are bad at taking polygraph tests.

That is one of the silliest hiring strategies ever devised.

Re:Robo-Polygraph? (2)

nabsltd (1313397) | about 3 months ago | (#47516419)

Basically they're filtering out all applicants who are bad at taking polygraph tests.

Based on the massive number of lies the intelligence agencies have recently told and had pretty much everyone in Congress believe them, it looks like their hiring practices have paid off.

Re:Robo-Polygraph? (1)

king neckbeard (1801738) | about 3 months ago | (#47516549)

Yes, polygraphs aren't baseless pseudoscience, but basically all of their practical usage is baseless pseudoscience.

Re:Robo-Polygraph? (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about 3 months ago | (#47516091)

The "worth" of a polygraph lies in the subject's belief in its ability to judge his truthfulness. Basically it's a psychological tool. It's ability to discover lies relies on the subject's belief in the operator's "professional" ability and his faith in machines making no mistakes.

One has to wonder whether that trick ever worked on someone in IT...

Re:Robo-Polygraph? (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 3 months ago | (#47516213)

The "worth" of a polygraph lies in the subject's belief in its ability to judge his truthfulness. Basically it's a psychological tool. It's ability to discover lies relies on the subject's belief in the operator's "professional" ability and his faith in machines making no mistakes.

The irony being, of course, that the type of absolute sociopath you would want to find/prevent from hiring with such a technique is exactly the person it won't work on.

Which, actually, explains a lot about law enforcement types....

Re:Robo-Polygraph? (2)

Opportunist (166417) | about 3 months ago | (#47516863)

I think it kinda takes a sociopath to willingly work for the NSA these days...

Re:Robo-Polygraph? (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 3 months ago | (#47516969)

Oh, so, functioning as designed.

Re:Robo-Polygraph? (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about 3 months ago | (#47517215)

Pretty much.

Got a conscience? Second guessing your motivations? Questioning your actions? Sorry, you're no material for us.

Re:Robo-Polygraph? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47517581)

I'd imagine NSA employees have the same disease their supporters do - good old fashioned delusion. They actually think they're helping.

Re:Robo-Polygraph? (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | about 3 months ago | (#47517347)

It's possibly a tool to decide if someone is compliant enough to put up with the test.

I had a polygraph test once, for a summer job at Circle K (strange things are afoot there). Sitting in a motel room with a guy asking me strange questions about whether I had ever stolen anything. I didn't get the job.

Re:Robo-Polygraph? (1)

hawkinspeter (831501) | about 3 months ago | (#47516137)

That actually sounds interesting as they'll need to get a machine to be able to repeatedly interpret polygraphs when the current usage depends entirely on the examiner's judgement (or guesses).

It should be relatively easy to fake a robotic polygraph - just clench your buttocks at the right time.

Re:Robo-Polygraph? (1)

Joe Gillian (3683399) | about 3 months ago | (#47516195)

My guess is that once they realize people can just butt-clench (or more accurately, sphincter-clench) their way through the tests, they'll discard the polygraph robot and bring in Robo-Freud and his partner, Robo-Jung.

"This unit believes you are clenching your sphincter because you are anally retentive. Did your mother not love you enough? Is that why you have a drug problem?"

Re:Robo-Polygraph? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47516215)

That would be employing countermeasures to attempt to attain security credentials! Much like the test for witchcraft, if they catch you, they'll have to torture you until you've confessed you're a terrorist. Unlike the test for witchcraft, if you die during a torture session, you are still a terrorist.

Re:Robo-Polygraph? (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | about 3 months ago | (#47516223)

They didn't mention the anal tension probe?

Won't help, people will just put a thumb tack in their shoe instead. But feds will get jollys sticking buttplugs up interviewees. Remember these are wannabe feds, couldn't happen to a nicer bunch.

Re:Robo-Polygraph? (1)

MaskedSlacker (911878) | about 3 months ago | (#47519703)

just clench your buttocks at the right time

At least some polygraph operators use pressure-sensitive seat cushions to detect gluteal muscle movement during a polygraph since that episode of P&T. (source: brother who took a polygraph for employment).

Re:Robo-Polygraph? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47516639)

The article mentioned the researchers attaching "electrodes to measure cardiographic and electrodermal responses" to the participants, but that might just be to measure the effects of the robot compared to a human interviewer. The stage in the clearance process which they are trying to replace with the robot is nothing more than going over the questionnaire to ensure it's complete and correct (if not, the submitted forms will be rejected), and a chance to elicit more information from the subject that they wouldn't normally divulge on an electronic questionnaire. The latter is very important, otherwise the clearance process will be delayed when either the in-field investigators discover the information or if it comes up during a polygraph (if the clearance level requires it, as lower ones usually do not).

Re:Robo-Polygraph? (1)

AHuxley (892839) | about 3 months ago | (#47519903)

Re 'Wouldn't it be much more efficient to just eliminate the polygraph altogether?"
Not if your selling and using the kit at a state and federal level.
The UK and other nations know you have to look at a persons life story, interview parents face to face, extended family, friends. School, local courts, chased down old paper records and build up a real generational life story of reading material, internet use, political ideas, faith, links to other nations, links to other nations faith, cash flow.
The US finds this to be hard work that is stuck with cleared gov staff - no private sector profits. So they have passed testing onto a person doing a test in a chair.
At best they watch your reading habit on the internet, do some digital database searches and very carefully note what your reading before the test. A rapid spike in internet searches for "polygraph" or an order for print books on 'polygraph" before the test is noted.
The rest is just time saving questions about your life, reading lists, political connections, family with the cheap digital review/state federal database search as a guide.
The average person sees a complex medical device and the charm of an interviewer hinting they know the person is feeling a certain way and want to "help".
That the job is great for them, but they have to help with a second or third test and really open up, the 'feelings' aspect.
A real spy knows that they are loyal to, faith is and what the truth is - they have no issues or feelings to mess them up on the day.
An average skilled worker with a lot to offer will over think the questions and might fail. A huge loss for the nation over decades.
The UK thought hard about this in the 1980's and seemed to understand what a real look into a persons life was about vs a digital search and perfect interview skills on one day.
The calm spies stay in, the good useful people mess up and are not considered.

Re:Robo-Polygraph? (1)

sociocapitalist (2471722) | about 3 months ago | (#47522551)

From the Vice article, this sounds a lot like a robotic polygraph - the article directly mentions using "electrodes to measure cardiographic and electrodermal responses".. which is essentially what a polygraph does. I can't imagine that a robot will be any more effective at applying baseless pseudoscience than a human would - in fact, I wouldn't be surprised if the number of people who have their careers ruined due to a failed polygraph is higher with the robot than with a human "interpreter".

Wouldn't it be much more efficient to just eliminate the polygraph altogether?

This isn't about efficiency. It's about removing the human element as much as possible, allowing those at the top to not worry that those underneath might slip one by them deliberately.

Computer generated head? (2)

Chris Mattern (191822) | about 3 months ago | (#47515933)

Sounds more like M-M-M-Max Head-Head-Headroom, to me.

Re:Computer generated head? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47516205)

Wh-wh-wh-wh-where would you like to be in your career f-f-f-five years from now-ow?

So there's this tortoise (5, Insightful)

Russ1642 (1087959) | about 3 months ago | (#47515957)

Holden: You're in a desert, walking along in the sand, when all of a sudden you look down...

Leon: What one?

Holden: What?

Leon: What desert?

Holden: It doesn't make any difference what desert, it's completely hypothetical.

Leon: But, how come I'd be there?

Holden: Maybe you're fed up. Maybe you want to be by yourself. Who knows? You look down and see a tortoise, Leon. It's crawling toward you...

Leon: Tortoise? What's that?

Holden: [irritated by Leon's interruptions] You know what a turtle is?

Leon: Of course!

Holden: Same thing.

Leon: I've never seen a turtle... But I understand what you mean.

Holden: You reach down and you flip the tortoise over on its back, Leon.

Leon: Do you make up these questions, Mr. Holden? Or do they write 'em down for you?

Holden: The tortoise lays on its back, its belly baking in the hot sun, beating its legs trying to turn itself over, but it can't. Not without your help. But you're not helping.

Leon: [angry at the suggestion] What do you mean, I'm not helping?

Holden: I mean: you're not helping! Why is that, Leon?

[Leon has become visibly shaken]

Holden: They're just questions, Leon. In answer to your query, they're written down for me. It's a test, designed to provoke an emotional response... Shall we continue?

Re:So there's this tortoise (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47516243)

And if the interview went like this, I would expect the candidate to be rejected.

So what's your point?

Re:So there's this tortoise (1)

nabsltd (1313397) | about 3 months ago | (#47516449)

And if the interview went like this, I would expect the candidate to be rejected.

Shooting the interviewer is generally considered to be a sign that the interview subject is hiding something, so, yes, rejection would be the appropriate decision.

Re:So there's this tortoise (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47516581)

if a person was applying to cia or some other like minded then it can actually be a test passed case.

Re:So there's this tortoise (3, Funny)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | about 3 months ago | (#47516401)

Leon should have kept his cool, like Rachael did later, as it turns out the Voight-Kampff test is checking whether someone is a Lesbian, not a Replicant.

Blush response... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47517407)

.... we call it "Voight-Kampff" :)

Liar Paradox (2)

khr (708262) | about 3 months ago | (#47515961)

Can you make smoke come of it by saying that everything you say is a lie?

Re:Liar Paradox (1)

frank_adrian314159 (469671) | about 3 months ago | (#47515995)

Worked in Star Trek every time! It's the only way to defeat a computer (well, that or pull its plug). It comes of being binary, you know. Poor things...

Re:Liar Paradox (5, Funny)

geekoid (135745) | about 3 months ago | (#47516031)

Not if it has paradox-absorbing crumple zones.

Re:Liar Paradox (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47516041)

Since it's just an ugly UI added to the already useless polygraph ("lie detector"), it will only accept 'yes' or 'no' answers. The script writers might not be dumb enough to have it ask 'is your answer to this question a lie?' Even then, the 'results' are determined later by comparing the stress-test activity timeline to the question/answer timeline, and a real-live human (biologically speaking) makes an arbitrary decision based on how stressed out you were after the question about stealing from the office refrigerator.

Re:Liar Paradox (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47516675)

what refrigerator?

Huge Issue (1)

Jim Sadler (3430529) | about 3 months ago | (#47515997)

Obviously we don't want to be a culture all about draconian punishments that last forever. But that presents a real conflict. Suppose for a brief moment that you have a slot for one honors student in a scholarship situation that holds great promise for an applicant. You have two of the most perfect applicants that you will ever see and both have wonderful credentials that are far above any reasonable expectations for any student. Yet one student had a minor arrest for being drunk while in the ninth grade. Isn't it fair to take the student with the perfect record? And what does it say about us if we allow a situation in which the less than perfect sometimes do better than those who are unblemished in any way? The problem is that we have very few people with stellar accomplishments and perfect social histories and they deserve the highest rewards whereas we have all kinds of people that have had a serious problem or two along the way who also may have great talents. Shouldn't we always strive to help the best the most? This line of though usually gets me some hate mail.

Re:Huge Issue (1)

retchdog (1319261) | about 3 months ago | (#47516165)

given your ridiculous hypothetical, i think i'd take the one with the minor arrest. it shows that he is willing to socialize and take moderate risks in a social setting, while still performing equally to the poindexter.

on the other hand, even a 5-minute interview would probably give me more information than a list of mostly-bullshit "accomplishments", so whatever.

Re:Huge Issue (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | about 3 months ago | (#47516251)

People aren't exactly equal, ever. You ignore the drunk in public ticket (or any other irrelevance) and look closer at actual qualifications.

Re:Huge Issue (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47516441)

No. You assume the 'perfect' one is lying. Only liars are perfect.

Re:Huge Issue (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | about 3 months ago | (#47516571)

I started with the assumption that they all did a bunch of things they didn't get caught for.

I wasn't perfect, but I was a good kid. I never got caught.

Re:Huge Issue (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47516287)

Obviously we don't want to be a culture all about draconian punishments that last forever. But that presents a real conflict. Suppose for a brief moment that you have a slot for one honors student in a scholarship situation that holds great promise for an applicant. You have two of the most perfect applicants that you will ever see and both have wonderful credentials that are far above any reasonable expectations for any student. Yet one student had a minor arrest for being drunk while in the ninth grade. Isn't it fair to take the student with the perfect record? And what does it say about us if we allow a situation in which the less than perfect sometimes do better than those who are unblemished in any way? The problem is that we have very few people with stellar accomplishments and perfect social histories and they deserve the highest rewards whereas we have all kinds of people that have had a serious problem or two along the way who also may have great talents. Shouldn't we always strive to help the best the most? This line of though usually gets me some hate mail.

A few observations that may explain the hate mail...

First off, the hypothetical example you give sounds like you're talking about yourself which comes off as narcissistic and self serving. A perfect record doesn't mean an applicant never committed any crimes, it just means they never got caught. Your college scholarship example also favors people who apply right out of high school, less time to make a mistake that goes on your record. You also completely ignored that the privileged hire lawyers or pull strings to keep anything from ever appearing on their record. Not to mention, public records involving minors are usually sealed anyway.

Second, security clearances are about trust. If you're confident enough to answer every question as truthfully as possible and you have a talent the US Government absolutely needs, they'll likely overlook some harmless shenanigans as long as you aren't afraid to tell them about them. The purpose of the interview is to established whether or not you can be blackmailed into doing something you normally wouldn't do. If you're not afraid your life as you know it will end because you smoked a little weed in college, then ISIS can't blackmail you to commit a minor crime, which seems benign, but then becomes leverage for bigger and bigger stuff or so it goes in the movies.

Third, you talk about helping the "best" succeed the most, but by who's definition of best and how can you prevent the "have's" from gaming the system and creating a greater class divide in the country?

Re:Huge Issue (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47516301)

The official answer is that the security clearance process uses what is termed "Whole Person" concept, where any adverse information is viewed in light of all other information. The system is not perfect, but it's far from terrible.

Re:Huge Issue (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 3 months ago | (#47518195)

How about we have a reasonable education for all? It turns out honors in High School is not a predictor of college success.

" Shouldn't we always strive to help the best the most?
define 'the best'? Is the person who never took a risk really the best?

dealing with the unknown (1)

magarity (164372) | about 3 months ago | (#47516001)

How does it deal when I ask it what ketamine is?

Re:dealing with the unknown (1)

JaredOfEuropa (526365) | about 3 months ago | (#47516149)

"We're willing to wipe the slate clean, give you a fresh start. But tell me mr. Anderson, what good is a job if you're unable to speak...?"

Re:dealing with the unknown (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | about 3 months ago | (#47516263)

Considering that all your physiological signs say you're asleep, you're obviously telling the truth.

Re:dealing with the unknown (1)

bugs2squash (1132591) | about 3 months ago | (#47517477)

it's an ingredient in diet coke

Blame (2)

headhot (137860) | about 3 months ago | (#47516005)

So when an idiot gets clearance, there is no one to blame? Remember the finger pointing after Snoden (not that he's an idiot) No more of that blame game with this! Problem solved.

Re:Blame -- I welcome the robot HR overlords. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47523231)

I welcome the robot HR overlords.

Besides, I expect complete failure to manifest as; "People with integrity and conscience" accidentally being placed in positions of power within 3 letter agencies. It's better than outsourcing the job.

First question (4, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | about 3 months ago | (#47516033)

"Are you now or have you ever been a member of the Communist Party of the United States..."

Whoopsie, wrong questionnaire.

Re:First question (1)

jeffmeden (135043) | about 3 months ago | (#47516229)

"Are you now or have you ever been a member of the Communist Party of the United States..."

Whoopsie, wrong questionnaire.

Here is the form you were looking for: "are you or have you ever posted to Slashdot as Anonymous Coward? Ok next question: Are you or have you ever browsed slashdot at -1?"

we have a subversive on our hands!!!

Re:First question (1)

desdinova 216 (2000908) | about 3 months ago | (#47516561)

yes to both

Re:First question (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47516393)

"Of the United States? Why no, no I'm not."

I wonder if the bot will be able to determine if someone's answer is a weasly dodge of the truth.

Re:First question (1)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | about 3 months ago | (#47518201)

Seeing as the Communist Party was dedicated to the overthrow of the U.S. Government...what would you do?

It's not a witch-hunt if there really were Communists in the State Department. Hint: there were.

Re:First question (1)

MaskedSlacker (911878) | about 3 months ago | (#47519747)

The Confederacy was dedicated to the overthrow of the US Government and hundreds of thousands of them actually bore arms against that government, and they were less poorly treated than the "Communists" in the 1950s despite having been a far, far greater threat.

So yes, it was a witch hunt. Just because a handful of them existed doesn't mean the measures taken were reasonable or proportional to the threat (which was zilch).

Re:First question (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about 3 months ago | (#47520663)

So? There are full blown fascists right now in the State Department, hellbent on derailing the United States Constitution and nobody gives a shit.

Re:First question (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47519627)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Civil_Service_Reform_Act_of_1978
The MSPB conducts studies of the federal civil service and hears appeals of federal employees who have been disciplined or otherwise separated from their positions. Personnel actions which discriminate among employees based on marital status, political activity, or political affiliation are prohibited by the CSRA. Federal employees may file complaints regarding possible violations of this rule with the Office of Special Counsel, which was created as a subunit of the MSPB.

Re:First question (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about 3 months ago | (#47520671)

Discrimination? Who speaks of discrimination? We're just asking a few harmless questions. And of course you may opt to not answer, that's completely within your rights. And of course not answering, or providing an answer we don't like, will have no influence on your chance to be employed whatsoever...

Welcome to Hack-A-Job ... (1)

CaptainDork (3678879) | about 3 months ago | (#47516055)

... I could be pre-approved for head of the NSA.

Damn you, Snowden!!! (1)

CaptainDork (3678879) | about 3 months ago | (#47516131)

See what you've done? No more contractor vetting. All those jobs ...

What does that say about the current interviewers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47516173)

Does that mean the current interviewers can't pass the Turing Test either?

Re:What does that say about the current interviewe (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47517313)

It is the level of detail they are asking for. When I had to do this test and admitted to smoking marijuana in high school I had to give details of every incident I ever used. No ball park figures, exact amounts. The whole thing went something like this:

Interviewer: "Have you used marijuana in the last 7 years?"

Me: "Yes."

Interviewer: "How much and When?"

Me: "What do you mean how much and when? Total? "

Interviewer: " I need everything, go back to beginning when did you start and how much did you smoke that day."

Me: " I don't know the day or exact amounts. I could guess total was an ounce or an once and a half total at most. But that is just a guess I have no idea. I wasn't keeping track."

Interviewer: "I need to know more. How much did you use a week."

Me; "It depends, it wasn't a consistent thing."

Interviewer: "I need to know details of amounts by at least by month or by week.

We spent nearly 45 minutes going week by week talking about how I smoked X amount each day/week/month to make a grand total of an ounce or an ounce and a half for my senior year of high school. The amount of details he wanted was ridiculous IMO. I wasn't trying to hide the fact I had used, whole person application and everything. But something as simple as the statement of: "Sometimes, I would smoke a bowl in high school." Turned into" "On the week of October 1st i smoked 0.1 grams of marijuana by pipe. The week of October 9th I smoked 0.3 grams of marijuana by pipe."

Re:What does that say about the current interviewe (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | about 3 months ago | (#47518279)

When in college I was the first to successfully clear a 9 foot tall grafix bong. 340 cubic inches. Was awarded the bong as reward, want to try? Brought it in with a lampshade on the top, nobody said a thing.

Yes, I am bragging! Why do you ask?

Please go on (1)

cstacy (534252) | about 3 months ago | (#47516225)

Earlier you said something about your Mother Russia.
Please go on.

Re:Please go on (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47516629)

yes this, I missed that somehow. After a week of intense anti- and pro-Russian propaganda it somehow feels bad if there is nothing about Russia in the thread - thank you!

Good luck with that ... (1)

gstoddart (321705) | about 3 months ago | (#47516307)

The researchers were hoping to leverage the power of presence: the idea that people recognize another sentient being in the environment, and are more responsive as a result. ...

The interviewer isnâ(TM)t quite a sentient AI; it relies on a dialogue tree similar to telephone customer service: tell the computer all the simple things, then press 0 for a human to explain the story behind your streaking arrest.

>
In other words, it won't understand you, has a limited set of responses it knows how to deal with, and will piss people off.

And some fed (who had to wait around for your interview and strap you into the electrodes anyway) will come back to an apoplectic interviewee who is tired of the stupid machine because it doesn't understand nuance, inflection, or anything else. Which is precisely why trained humans do this job.

Tell you what though, I hear they have this really cool program which pretends to be a 13 year old speaking his non native language.

I just don't see this being anything more than a gimmick to get funding, and will never actually amount to anything in the near term.

It's actually a good idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47516851)

I've been part of two different interviews for security clearances. I have a friend who was a contractor conducting these background checks as well.

Most of the process is tedious BS, he quit the job after a while. He also thinks the out sourcing of gov workers to contractors greatly weakened the whole process (that shouldn't really be a surprise, should it?) Physically driving around most of his time with his office in a car was not a good use of time. The interviews I was part of asked the same sort of simple questions with simple answers that clearly were memorized by repetition.

The real work is verifying the answers people give by having multiple people confirm the simple answers that really are just purposed for verifying a few questions. In fact, I wondered if the whole process wasn't designed to be so simplistically stupid that the subjects would want to volunteer additional information. Anyhow these people drive incredible distances just to get simple answers from childhood friends etc. some of which the person being investigated supplied. I don't see how this expensive aspect of the process couldn't be automated and the poorer job the contractors do could also be automated and it would probably improve things.

The more sophisticated aspects should still be done the old fashioned way but given that most of these lower clearances are not a huge deal and even the higher ones must involve some of the same procedures this seems like a huge money saver.... as long as the more important parts of the process remain untouched...

None of this matters when the NSA outsources government jobs to contractors so an IT contractor gets access to information that previously only somebody within the agency would take many years of informal vetting to gain access to. Contractors simply don't give a rip so why you'd use them in such situations is beyond me (they are rarely cheaper and the risk is greater.)

Who would hire a ketamine user? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47516411)

When we have people in charge of national security, hopefully we aren't relying on fucking drug addicts.

We've already had several potheads/cocaine users running the country and look at the great job they've done.

Re:Who would hire a ketamine user? (1)

king neckbeard (1801738) | about 3 months ago | (#47516613)

Someone who has used ketamine is not necessarily a drug addict, and it's the teetotalers you need to be wary of.

Re:Who would hire a ketamine user? (1)

whois (27479) | about 3 months ago | (#47516915)

That's not how the logic behind those security clearance questions works. The reason they ask if you've used drugs, had an affair, or any other unmoral things is that if you have done those things you might be susceptible to blackmail. Some foreign agent comes up to you and says "I know you use drugs and can prove it. Sell us secrets or we'll tell on you and get you fired/jailed/etc.."

Or whatever.

It's a risk assessment (1)

Zeorge (1954266) | about 3 months ago | (#47517417)

That's what the security process is about. They know they can never know everything but they can make an informed "best-guess". Someone who has engaged in illegal/immoral behaviors in a consistent manner over time is a risk. Someone who has never done anything and has references is less of a risk. Most people though have done stuff in HS and maybe college but no longer partake in said behaviors, this is documented, and an interview is conducted to make a risk assessment on the individual. If you are low enough on the scale then you get the clearance. As you deal with different clearances/jobs/roles there may be actual personality/behavior tests, etc.

For the US you can look this up, the manual is published and freely available.

Yes, yes, yes, the system can be gamed but that's a different topic.

Re:Who would hire a ketamine user? (1)

king neckbeard (1801738) | about 3 months ago | (#47517647)

The threat of losing their job is moot if the employer won't fire them for it, and admitting that you used drugs bears no legal consequences outside of the statute of limitations, nevermind that there probably isn't enough evidence even if it wasn't,and you'd have to get a DA to prosecute someone with a security clearance.

Furthermore, that line of reasoning only works on people that could be blackmailed, which would suggest the best candidates are those that are openly deviants.

Re:Who would hire a ketamine user? (1)

AHuxley (892839) | about 3 months ago | (#47519767)

The use of slang, street smarts, been part of a hidden culture, keeping that side of you hidden and having traveled the world might be seen as useful.
Or to pick out a person who is not part of that culture very quickly.
The other aspects is cash flow, law enforcement files and blackmail over things you might have done to enjoy that expensive activity.
It really depends on what part of the gov found you or who you face in the interviews.
Some are deeply devout teetotaler other staff might be more world wise and want people who can fit in around the world.
Signals intelligence at home facing blackmail vs an understanding of human intelligence in the field globally.

Argument Clinic? (1)

chinton (151403) | about 3 months ago | (#47516417)

It's pretty easy to program a gainsaying computer generated head. You could make it look like John Cleese...

Re:Argument Clinic? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47516567)

Which would immediately turn you into Kevin Kline screaming "AssssHooooooooole!" (movie reference for those that may not be aware)

Great... (1)

BenJeremy (181303) | about 3 months ago | (#47516951)

...that's all I need, an avatar to browbeat me for an hour over my poor credit history that is partially due to my poorly-paid job working on a government contract.

Terminator? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47517017)

Was wondering when we would start to make the technology.
Now when we crush a robot trying to kill us, the chase will never end.

Robotic Overlords (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47517547)

This is simply one of the key technologies needed before our Robotic Overlords can take control of the planet.

Reminds me of a comic book of the 70s (1)

dargaud (518470) | about 3 months ago | (#47517585)

In the story anybody had to take some automated interview to get any job in government (including running for elections). You figure out quickly that only certain 'types' of people fit the mold, which was intended from the start but had unfortunate side effects. Unfortunately they are not the kind of people who where needed. And it brings about the end of civilization... While some kind of ersatz tech government is still present but everybody starves.

What this says about us (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47518139)

Given the state of artificial intelligence, the assertion that this function could be better performed by a bot speaks volumes about human risk assessment.

"What asteriod?"

SnowCrash (1)

Deliveranc3 (629997) | about 3 months ago | (#47518445)

And it was soul destroying. Why not just use bots instead of employees? You're serving corporations whose three ring binder mentality is essentially robotlike? But the thing is... robots don't really care! So you could just save yourself a lot of bother by not doing any of it!
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