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– Albert Einstein. We wish to clarify our position with regard to the so-called 'scientific research' written by Professors Lacerda and Eriksson and published in the International Journal of Speech, Language and the Law in December 2007, but later withdrawn. Our response is divided into five sections: I: The Real Story ‘Scientific research’ does not mean carte blanche to write whatever one pleases. The article accuses Nemesysco's founder and CEO Amir Liberman of charlatanry, i.e., of knowingly and deceitfully inducing his customers to use a technology he himself knows doesn’t work. While we gladly comment below about the technology and defend its scientific basis and accuracy, we firmly believe that it is perfectly legitimate for us to take reasonable legal steps to defend both our company's and Liberman's integrity and reputation from these unfounded malicious attacks – a reputation being one’s essential asset in the marketplace. Indeed, Liberman was personally quoted in the respected US magazine Science as saying: ‘[t]he objection was not in the publication of their study results, it was in their calling us charlatans’1; this was the sole reason for our demand that the article be withdrawn, but there should be no doubt that we also strongly contest the article's 'findings'. It could be said that the article – which Lacerda refers to as being "provocatively written"2 (an understatement, no doubt), intending to show how "the technology behind the lie detector is a scam"3 – indeed touched a raw nerve, but we accept the slings and arrows of a free market and free speech; what we do not accept is the ad hominem attacks and unfounded accusations – as one blogger put it, "…you can see why they took offence. The paper is unusually lively for an academic article. … in parts the thing reads more like a blog post or an op-ed than a scientific paper"4, another commented, "the researchers shouldn't be throwing around words like 'charlatanry' unless they're ready to prove that Nemesysco is purposely promoting technology that [it doesn’t itself] believe to be effective"5 and a third opined, "[t]he article is quite unusual for a scientific article. For example, it has a section titled 'Who is Mr. Liberman?'
2http://www.su.se/english/about/news_and_events/scientists_threatened_with_legal_action 4http://neuroskeptic.blogspot.com/2009/02/lies-libel-and-love-detection.html 5http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20090129/1934593574.shtml,
addressing a private person and claiming that he is a charlatan based on a visit by a friend made to a private company"6. However, we should be clear that insofar as the article features a review of a halfcentury of lie detection as well as an analysis of voice stress analysis technology (VSA and CVSA) that has nothing in common with Nemesysco’s LVA technology, we have no claim or dispute with it. II: Nemesysco, the Scientific Community and Our Patents: Firstly, and most importantly, we welcome and encourage proper scientific review of, or research about our technology's capabilities; however, as in any type of scientific research, some basic criteria must be adhered to and a fundamental understanding of the research material must be established. Over the past years we have either ourselves conducted, or have assisted researchers in the US, Russia, Poland, Japan, South Africa, Sweden and Israel in doing so, mostly providing our technology and relevant training free of charge to genuine researchers to this end. Further research is currently being undertaken in Japan, Israel, Argentina and the US. The article's claims that our technology does not work and cannot work are based on assumptions made by Eriksson and Lacerda, selectively (as explained below) citing from only three published US research studies, while completely ignoring all the other studies that have been published in diverse scientific publications, or presented at conferences, many of which are available for review on our web site. Contrary to the claimed lack of academic support for our technology, a growing number of academic works have focused on Nemesysco’s core technology and products7 and found in their favour. The most recent one, a 457-page Polish6http://www.mindhacks.com/blog/2009/01/legal_threat_for_cri.html, 7E.g.:
comment by Joseph Lehmann
“Forensic Criminology and Psychophysiology: Truth Verification tools, with a special study of Truster Pro” , Drs. Guy van Damme , Crime Research in South Africa (CRISA), Volume 2, Number 2 (April 2001) “Reliability and Validity of Layered Voice Analysis technology in the detection of mental stress”, Nemoto K, Tachikawa H, Takao T, Sato H, Ashizawa Y, Endo G, Tanaka K, Ishii R, Ishii N, Hashimoto K, Iguchi T, Hada S, Hori M and Asada T (presented at the WORLD CONFERENCE OF STRESS, August 2007, Budapest, Hungary and published at Seishin Igaku (Clinical Psychiatry) Magazine, October 2008, ISSN: 0488-1281, ISBN: 05627) “The Power of Voice: Managerial Affective States and Future Firm Performance”, William J. Mayew and Mohan Venkatachalam, Fuqua School of Business, Duke University, July 21, 2008 (Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1171102). “Robotic KANSEI Communication System Based on Emotional Synchronization”, Hashimoto, Minoru (Shinshu University), Yamano, Misaki (Shinshu University), Usui, Tatsuya (Shinshu University), 2008 IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems, Sept, 22-26, 2008, Acropolis Convention Center, Nice, France “The sexual arousal factor in pedophiles”, Prof Herman Conradie, Department of Criminology, University of South Africa, Codicillus, Volume 48, Issue 1, 2007
language doctorate written by a Warsaw University student, which was published only few months ago8, actually covered, unlike Eriksson and Lacerda, many methods of ‘lie-detection’ available today. The author actually conducted experiments on different versions of the LVA technology, and found that there is a strong and consistent correlation between LVA's emotional parameters and the expected emotional state of those who display what he describes as a 'lack of honesty'. Perhaps the most outrageous fact is that Eriksson and Lacerda decided to ignore one specific piece of research of which Eriksson at least is certainly well aware. In Sweden itself, as yet unpublished research conducted in the psychology department of Umea University (2004-2005) on the then-latest version of the technology (on which those conducting the research had received proper training), yielded excellent results, and as repeatedly reported in the Swedish press, Eriksson is well aware of this research and its findings. To the best of our knowledge, this research has not been published to date mainly due to Eriksson's highly aggressive attack on the Umea research team, e.g. his calling the lead research professor "an unscrupulous joker" or "an unscrupulous rascal"9. One can’t help but wonder if Eriksson's passionate defense of academic freedom relates only to negative findings. In contrast to all the positive pieces of research mentioned above, in preparing their article, Eriksson and Lacerda never made any contact with Nemesysco10. Rather than seeking access to the actual up-to-date technology, they instead attempted to somehow ‘re-construct’ the technology from only one of our two published patents, filed over 10 years ago, which they should have realized, as intelligent and good faith researchers, was unlikely to produce a fair reflection of the technology, and particularly the technology in its 2007 state. To be clear: Nemesysco is not an 'academic institute', nor a research institution. Rather, Nemesysco is a privately funded commercial company with natural profitmaking aims, dedicated toward the aim of producing better and more accurate technology for voice analysis as well as tools for fighting crime and wrongdoing. As one of the researchers in the first official research by US Air Force Rome Labs (commissioned by the NIJ) stated, following a year’s field trial: “I believe in this system’s capability of becoming a valuable investigative tool for the law enforcement officers on the streets of our cities, town and villages across the nation”11.
yet available in English. Free translation from Swedish, found at http://www.vof.se/forum/viewtopic.php?f=17&t=66. 10 Not, as some have suggested, to seek Nemesysco's 'approval' for their research, which in any event it is not (nor should it be) in our power to give or withhold, but rather in order to get access to the latest technology. 11 Page 17, “Investigation and Evaluation of Voice Stress Analysis Technology”, AFRL, March 20, 2002.
Patent applications are by law required to provide just enough information about the present state of the invention and sometimes, a 'preferred embodiment' or a 'proof of concept'. This is what our patent applications (from 1998 and 1999) are designed to do, and we stand firmly behind the basic ideas presented in the patent papers. Any mathematician with basic knowledge of signal processing will easily see the connection between our patent's 'thorns' and the presence of high frequencies in the analyzed wave form as claimed, and our 'plateaus' and the presence of low frequencies. It's surprising to note that while, according to his résumé, Eriksson has a background in mathematics12, he appears not to have made this connection. If the science of phonetics had any useful parameters for the determination of falsehood, given the amount of research devoted to it (of which the public is aware of only a small fraction), no doubt these parameters would have been established by now. Rather, we firmly believe that we have discovered something completely new. In fact, the technology intentionally makes use of what Lacerda and Eriksson refer to as 'artifacts', as a sophisticated (not complicated) way of evaluating the 'outline' of the frequency range in the voice segment. The first discovery we made (hence, the first patent) related to the fact that these artifacts, notwithstanding the fact they are often unstable and influenced by hardware and the surrounding environment, nevertheless still very well reflect the mental state of the speaker. Much of our confidential know-how relates to the way we filter extraneous 'noises' out (as well as additional vocal indicators which have been discovered since the patents were first filed), but that part of the patent that relates to the 'calibration period' (which is only one of the filters we use today) was completely ignored by Eriksson and Lacerda. Funnily enough, only two of the three research studies cited by Lacerda and Eriksson were indeed unfavorable towards our technology. While we object to the research protocols in these two cases (our detailed comments on them are available on request), the researchers in those cases at least had the integrity to state that the technology was not used according to our instructions or to add our comments in the body of their pieces. The third piece of research mentioned by Eriksson (Haddad, 2002) is the US Air Force research a quote from which was cited above. This research in general produced a very favorable conclusion about the ability of our technology to detect stress (which it was the sole objective of the research to assess). Having done their research, such as it was, Eriksson and Lacerda neither sought our comments on or response to their findings before publishing, nor made the slightest reference in their article to any of the positive research cited above – despite the fact that they must have been aware of it, given not least that some of it is cited on our
website at www.nemesysco.com/studies.html. Rather, they simply and conveniently state that the studies they selected are of 'excellent quality', and one need look no further. III: Nemesysco’s LVA Technology and Lie Detection Nemesysco today distributes various solutions for various needs, from lawful interception, to quality assurance, from entertainment applications to investigation focus tools; each is designed to work in its own natural environment taking into out psychological and circumstantial factors. It is vital to make the distinction between our technology used for investigation purposes and so-called ‘lie detectors’. Although the Professors deride the distinction between our technology in general and a traditional 'lie detector', it is crucial to understanding how our technology works, which is by quantifying and classifying different states of stress and other emotions underlying speech which suggest, at times and in different combinations, that the subject's current state of mind is drastically different to his normal emotional baseline in a specific portion of his speech– not by detecting 'yes' and 'no' lies. Lacerda and Eriksson apparently worry that genuine UK benefit applicants or insurance claimants will have their claims turned down solely due to our technology. Legitimate as this concern may be, it has no basis in real life (even were it permitted by law, which it is not). Our training, contracts and end-user licenses make it clear that users of the technology should never assume that it can stand alone in their fight against fraud and crime or that it is free of possible analysis errors, but rather that it is designed to be used as an additional tool in that fight, by indicating which subjects should be further investigated and on what topics. Indeed, this point is made specifically in the Science magazine article cited above, by a representative of the UK’s Department of Work & Pensions who is quoted as saying that the Department "wouldn't just say from one phone call [that] we're stopping the benefit"13. We have never suggested that the technology is a magic pill. It is not and never will be. It is, however, to our belief, the most accurate and efficient technology of its type in the marketplace, yet even so, we are committed to refining it even more and thus, Nemesysco's research and development continues. Furthermore, and crucially, our ‘best practice’ training advises, in so far as this permitted by local law, against informing the tested party about the test14 and the technology can be and has been used to analyze recorded speeches, sometimes from distant history. In both of these cases, by definition, the ‘bogus pipe-line effect’ men13http://sciencenow.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/2009/210/1 14However,
in jurisdictions where conducting this type of test without the consent of the subject is unlawful, consent must of course be requested and obtained.
tioned so widely in the article and press cannot apply, since it can by definition only apply where the subject is aware that the technology is being used on him, and decides as a result to 'come clean'. Deterrence is not to be discounted and is a vital element in fighting crime but there must be something real behind it for it to continue to be effective over a prolonged period; our solutions have been in use for several years in the same places yet have continued to consistently generate accurate results time after time. Indeed, where our new solutions are used to help increase call center quality15 – where by definition that is no 'deterrence' factor since there is nothing to deter – they are regularly reported to generate very good results in detecting various positive and negative emotional states during conversations. Over 6 million dollars have been invested by Nemesysco and its founders in research and development of the core technology and applications since the patents were filed. We employ a full-time certified clinical psychologist, as well as investigators, psychiatrists, mathematicians and other professionals – either full time or as need requires – and have even employed a full-time ‘devil’s advocate’ specifically to find loopholes in the technology and new applications. Nemesysco is not merely a ‘one-man band’ in some small nondescript out-of-the-way office16. Nemesysco’s global network today consists of several hundred people directly involved in technology, market research and sales. Our products and technologies are used in many parts of the world, by governments and corporations alike. Nemesysco is of course not permitted to disclose the identity of those customers who have requested confidentiality, but as published in the UK press, UK government agencies and various insurance companies have used the technology for a few years now with very favorable results . Given natural and expected skepticism, especially in the light of the very negative impression left from 'lie-detection' technologies of the past, it is unlikely that any other technology of this scale has been subjected to – yet passed – such aggressive and intensive acceptance tests. In fact, to date, not a single corporate or governmental body has deployed our technology without first testing it for a significant duration to ascertain its effectiveness. And yet, we continue to encourage and in fact often demand that new users perform their own testing – because testing conducted in genuine 'real-time' situations where the emotions in play are necessarily real and there is genuine jeopardy is naturally preferable to testing in a laboratory mock-up situation.
http://www.nemesysco.com/press/QA5_press_release_120207.pdf that it would matter if it were, but it seems to be germane to the tone of the article to portray us as such, as if this is necessarily relevant to the quality of the technology. In fact, our office (the office visited by Swedish journalist Arne Lapidus back at 2005) sits in the same building as MSN Israel, and several departments of Elbit, a multi-billion dollar company, are situated next door
In fact, we have observed a simple yet distinct line between the research that found LVA technology highly accurate and those which didn’t. Testing on mock-up cases, on actors, or in cases where either the 'stick' or the 'carrot' is missing, find against the technology. But field studies conducted in airports (both in Russia17 and in Europe) show almost flawless operation, where personnel involved were able to successfully identify subjects requiring further investigation and distinguish them from unremarkable passengers in ‘real time’. Such a distinction is, as we have said, entirely to be expected. (Referring back to the alleged 'bogus-pipeline effect', it is instructive that in the Russian test, for example, despite being warned that the technology was to be used on them, none of the passengers tested voluntarily admitted wrongdoing until confronted with evidence of it.) IV: Nemesysco and Amir Liberman As far as the article's personal attacks on Liberman are concerned, Liberman replies:"I have personally spent the past 12 years researching emotions in the human voice outside of the academic world which – it's no secret – I was never really part of. In fact I am thankful for that, as being outside of the academic world has given me the opportunity to keep my mind fresh and lead the way in this exciting new field, a field whose potential the academic and business world are only now beginning to realize, hence the interest in this article and Nemesysco's response to it. It goes without saying that we wouldn't have got any patents if our technology were not novel. "To the best of my understanding, our technology has no relationship to the science of phonetics in which Professor Eriksson specializes, and the audible characteristics of the voice wave form are not of our concern and interest. The phonetic characteristics of the human voice are highly controlled by the speaker, but LVA technology intentionally ignores anything in the voice that can be controlled – like pitch and amplitude, and anything that relates to the voice 'envelope' – hence the claim that the technology could be fooled by a deliberate change in voice can be discounted 18. For example our call center quality assurance systems: where the LVA technology generates expected results on genuine customers’ calls, it fails to do so on actors' voices usually used for training purposes in such scenarios, since the actors – unlike real callers – are not expressing their true emotions. "The LVA technology has to do with psychology, psychiatry, neurology and criminology, and indeed the professionals with whom we work in these fields are very receptive to our theories and products. Yet, so that there can be no doubt, I have never pretended
is not to deny that, as the Professors rightfully state, distinguishing truth from lies is never a simple task, and that, as the Professors failed to mention, it is highly influenced by the circumstances, the relationship between the tester and the tested party, the jeopardy of the situation and the intentions behind the lies. Liberman has published a paper (http://www.nemesysco.com/articlevoiceanalysis.html ) which speaks about this complexity in more details.
to be a psychologist, psychiatrist, neurologist or criminologist or indeed a universitytrained mathematician or anything else I am not. (We are currently running research for the detection of pre-menstrual syndrome in conjunction with an Israeli hospital, and for the record, I’m not a gynecologist either…). "Contrary to the professors' patronizing assumption that the academy is the exclusive font of knowledge, many of the greatest researchers and inventors of the past – and particularly of the hi-tech present – have or had no or little formal education." V: Conclusion In our view, as we have never denied, it is legitimate to question the reliability of new technology which makes bold claims in a field which itself is a scientific frontier, and one ought even to be skeptical about it. However, we believe that Eriksson and Lacerda started with the prejudicial view that a ‘lie detector’ cannot work and then set out to prove that preconception. By failing to distinguish between our technology and the classic ‘lie detector’, failing to acknowledge that our technology is not to be used as a sole arbiter of truth or falsehood in any case and failing to do their research on up-to-date technology rather than a re-constructed version of the technology they have produced a fatally flawed analysis which we strongly and absolutely refute. We would like to thank our customers and affiliates for their support, and others who have been decent enough to contact us over the past weeks since this story broke to seek our side of the story. We invite genuine researchers in the relevant fields to contact us with a view to performing additional serious research on the LVA technology. We may be contacted via our website or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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