The Future of Lying. Researchers at the UA Center for the Management of Information are developing a new system for digitally identifying lies. The system, known as the Automated Virtual Agent for Truth Assessments in Real-Time (or AVATAR), asks users questions and records their facial movements and answers with a high definition video camera. The program measures thousands of signals from the subject’s voice, body and eyes. All of this information is routed through an algorithm and the results are produced almost instantly. There are three result levels, depending on the severity of the lies: Green means the subject is clear to pass, yellow means there are some issues, and red means there are serious issues. The program is currently being developed to detect deception at border crossings. Whereas humans can detect lies roughly 54 percent of the time, research has shown that the system is 70 to 92 percent accurate.
Craycroft Elementary Receives $10,000 in STEM Funding. In support of Craycroft Elementary School’s “21st Century Program,” Amazon offered a special delivery of school supplies for afterschool robotics and engineering clubs. The donated boxes included science supplies as well as standard school supplies. The hope is for these new supplies to give students the opportunity to familiarize themselves with creative, scientific spaces. This comes ahead of Amazon opening a new center in Tucson next year.
Eternal Backslide of the Spotty Mind. Alzheimer’s Disease is difficult to detect early in life, even though its effects on the brain are believed to begin years before an individual starts to exhibit memory difficulties. However, scientists at the UA Department of Psychology and Human Memory Laboratory are finding new ways to detect the disease in its early stages. The researchers conducted an “autobiographical memory” test with a group of 35 adults, about half of whom carried a genetic trait known to nearly double the chances of Alzheimer’s disease. Despite the fact all the participants performed normally on other psychology tests, the results showed those with the genetic trait described memories with much less detail than those without it. The hope is this work will lead to the development of a clinical test sensitive enough to detect the preclinical brain changes of Alzheimer’s disease.
STEM Camp for Girls. The recent 2018 Applied Career Exploration in Science (ACES) Camp was a big success for 40 local middle school girls. The four-day summer camp exposed the students to wide variety of careers in the world of science and technology. The girls experienced being veterinary technicians, software programmers, chemists, engineers, and environmental scientists. The girls also learned to code with IBM and designed airplanes with active engineers. The camp is organized by the Southern Arizona Research, Science and Engineering Foundation.