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"The New York Times" writes about the largest retail bank in Russia, Sberbank, and its decision to test out a new high-tech ATM with voice-analysis software that backers say amounts to a built-in lie detector:

“The machine scans a passport, records fingerprints and takes a three-dimensional scan for facial recognition. And it uses voice-analysis software to help assess whether the person is truthfully answering questions that include ‘Are you employed?’ and ‘At this moment, do you have any other outstanding loans?’”

Involuntary responses that come with emotional anxiety or nervousness are measured, similar to a polygraph, to determine if someone is telling the truth.

“Consumers with no previous relationship with the bank could talk to the machine to apply for a credit card, with no human intervention required on the bank’s end."

Increased automation in banking is a topic of global interest to banks such as Deutsche Bank and Citigroup. However, technology consultants say the lie-detection component is thus far unique to Sberbank.

Its opponents regard this technology suspiciously, as another Big Brother intrusion. As one blog reader commented, “In Soviet Russia, ATMs withdraw from YOU!”

In response, Sberbank executives say the new ATM would adhere to Russia's privacy laws and there is no reason for alarm.

-- Joanna Kinscherff

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Written by RFE/RL editors and correspondents, Transmission serves up news, comment, and the odd silly dictator story. While our primary concern is with foreign policy, Transmission is also a place for the ideas -- some serious, some irreverent -- that bubble up from our bureaus. The name recognizes RFE/RL's role as a surrogate broadcaster to places without free media. You can write us at

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