Month: November 2019

Month: November 2019

Why Voice Technology Might Not Be the Way Forward for Russian ATMs
Image November 25, 2019 Technology chris

Liar, Liar, Your Russian Credit Application’s on Fire


COMMENTARY Coming soon to ATMs in Russia: ATMs equipped with voice-analysis equipment that can tell if you’re a filthy liar.

Sberbank, Russia’s largest bank, is testing ATMs that use voice-analysis software to detect whether a credit card applicant applying via their automated machines is telling the truth. The New York Times reports that the ATM would ask questions regarding employment and other necessary details involved in a credit application. The software, created by the Speech Technology Center, would be able to assess the anxiety and nervousness involuntarily hidden in vocal responses when lying.

This is groundbreaking, and the technology sounds amazing. But will it work?

I’m reminded of the phone call I made this morning to have a pick-up scheduled through a shipping company. My call was routed straight to a voice recognition menu, where I cheerfully replied that the purpose of my call was to “schedule an express pick-up.” After a pause, the automated female voice replied, “I’m sorry, I didn’t understand. Please repeat your option.” I replied, enunciating clearly, “Schedule. Express. Pick-up.” The female voice replied, “I think you want to schedule an express pick-up. Is that correct?”

“Yes.”

“I’m sorry, I didn’t understand. Please repeat.”

“YES.”

At this point, my voice was no longer cheerful. It was sharp and edged with the irritation of having had this same repetitious, clipped exchange on an almost daily basis when attempting to send out my packages. The computer picked up on what I was trying to do, though, and the female voice assured me that my pick-up was scheduled. At least, for today, my business was taken care of.

But will there be similar, stressful moments with the Russian ATMs? I foresee a well-meaning client applying for credit and having to repeat several times that he is employed with Moscow Shoe Company. The ATM will respond sharply, “I’m sorry, I don’t understand. Please repeat.” The client will become flustered and again say the name of his company. Becoming agitated, his voice will change, at which point the ATM may reply:

“You’re a liar. Please step away from the machine and don’t come back until you can tell the truth.”

Maybe my confidence in voice recognition and analysis software isn’t as high as it should be. Hopefully the technology developed by the Speech Technology Center and employed by Russia’s largest bank will be more dynamic than the program used by my preferred shipping company. That said, I eagerly await humorous tales from the front-lines of Russia’s most (and least) credit-worthy citizens.

Source: Andrew E. Kramer, An A.T.M. With An Ear For The Truth, The New York Times…

The Environmental Impact of Nanotechnology
Image November 1, 2019 Technology chris

Abstract

This report looks at the recent development of nanotechnology and its environmental impact by studying the beneficial applications of technology and the consequential risks posed by it on the environment and the public. Over the course of writing this report I discovered that not much scientific literature exists on the topic and that this is itself one of the series of problems faced by nanotechnology in its emergent phase.

Introduction

Nanotechnology is the branch of science whose characteristic feature is that it involves working with and creating materials or structures that are measured on the nanometer scale. Until recently, nanotechnology was but a popular theme in science fiction. However, it has since expanded into a diverse and extensive field of study and research with a wide range of possible applications. Today nanotechnology has implications in a variety of fields that affect human affairs such as medicine, agriculture, engineering, materials, ethics, and law. However, as with any emerging technology, nanotechnology has set off a number of discussions on its toxicity and, hence, impact on the environment. This has led to the setting up of regulatory bodies all over the globe to supervise the research and commercial applications of nanotechnology as well as to deal with the potential risk that nanotechnology poses to our environment.

Beneficial Applications of Nanotechnology

Nonetheless, nanotechnology has proved beneficial for the sustenance of our environment in numerous ways. One such application, according to Tina Masciangioli[1], is the use of nanotechnology to make more efficient water purification systems. By using advanced materials for filtration nanotechnology has the potential to make a tremendous positive impact on the long-term availability and quality of water resources. It is also possible, by the use of advanced nanosensors, to detect chemical and biological contamination in the environment (including the hydrosphere) even at very minute concentrations. Moreover, there is a vast amount of ongoing research on the possibility of using nanotechnology to completely eliminate the hazardous materials that remain behind in water systems due to the chemical processes that are currently used for water purification.

For instance, nanoparticles of iron are already being used extensively for end-of-pipe management and pollution cleanup in groundwater systems. Iron is known to chemically reduce contaminants in the environment but the use of nanosized particles further enhances its reactivity. This is essentially because the nanosized particles can access difficult areas more easily. The process can be further improved by coupling iron with other metals such as palladium on the nanoscale.

Nanosized particles of zinc oxide are also used widely for the development of greener pollution treatment processes. The minute particles of zinc oxide function dually as both sensors and catalysts. First, the presence of organic pollutants is detected by looking for changes in the visible emission signals. The zinc oxide particles then oxidize the pollutants by photocatalysis and reduce them into more environmentally friendly compounds. The benefit of using nanotechnology over other methods of purification is the dual sensor functionality of the nanoparticles being used. As a consequence …