The Curmudgeon


Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Sound Distinctions

In an unusual move for a government which believes in nuclear power, privatisation, the first past the post electoral system and Michael Gove, the Department for Doing Away with Jobs and Pensions has decided to do away with something because it isn't very good. One of the more esoteric threats cooked up for Gordon Brown's snooper state was the introduction of lie detector tests for benefit claimants. An Israeli company called Nemesysco (geddit?) manufactures "voice risk analysis" software, which ministers claimed (or "hoped", as the Guardian's science correspondent and resident psychic hath it) would make the benefits system cheaper and more efficient. Nobody thought of applying the same technology to the vocal emissions of bankers, business executives or (perish the thought) Liberal Democrats; but as it turns out this was just as well. Researchers in Sweden analysed the technology in 2007 and said it was "at the astrology end of the validity spectrum", to which Nemesysco responded with threats of legal action; and the company has responded to the Government's decision by observing that a couple of scientists here and there do not constitute a whole host of people. Besides the scientists, nine local authorities in Britain have now tested the software on calls about new benefit claims, and twelve have tried using it to detect cheats during reviews. It was not a roaring success, and the Minister for Welfare Removal has confirmed that his department "has now discontinued interest in VRA". All of which goes to show that, contrary to the claims of certain cynical voices, there is at least one very nearly substantive difference between Labour and the Conservatives: namely that only Labour were prepared to spend just over two million pounds on the pretence that they saw benefit claimants and benefit fraudsters as two distinct categories of human waste.


  • At 6:46 pm , Anonymous Madame X said...

    Oh, no. When practiced correctly, astrology is stunningly more accurate. Sociopaths can pass lie detectors quite easily (which is probably why they won't work on politicians and banksters).

  • At 9:22 am , Blogger brokenbiro said...

    A job lot of thumbscrews must be cheaper!


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