Something else we need

Software Spots the Spin in Political Speeches
New Scientist (09/17/08)No. 2674, P. 22; Hutson, Stu

Queen’s University researcher David Skillicorn has created an algorithm
that evaluates word usage within the text of a conversation or speech to
ascertain whether a person is being truthful. The program counts usage of
first person nouns, seeks out phrases that offer qualifications or
clarifications of more general statements, and looks for increased rates of
action verbs and negatively charged words, which signal higher levels of

Skillicorn used the algorithm to study speeches of 2008 presidential
contenders John McCain, Barack Obama, and Hillary Clinton, and determined
that the level of spin in their addresses reflected the occasion.

Voice analysis is another technique for determining spin, and Vox Institute
founder Branka Zei Pollermann uses auditory analysis software to build a
voice profile by mapping seven parameters of a person’s speech and then
comparing the profile with the speaker’s facial expressions by using
researcher Paul Ekman’s Facial Action Coding System as a guide.

Pollermann’s analysis of McCain’s speeches demonstrates that the
candidate’s flat tone and mismatched facial expressions could work against
him, while Obama, who exhibits greater pitch modulation and closer
correlation between speech and facial expressions, is a more politically
astute speaker.

Meanwhile, University of Tokyo researcher Yoshimasa Ohmoto
and colleagues are working on a facial recognition system for robots and
artificial intelligence agents that studies basic eye, nose, and mouth
movements to determine whether a person is lying.

A tax I might like

A Tax on Buggy Software
Forbes (06/26/08) Greenberg, Andy

David Rice, an instructor at the SANS Institute* and a former cryptographer for the National Security Agency and NASA, has published “Geekonomics: The Real Cost of Insecure Software,” a new book that criticizes the software industry for its careless attitude toward security. Rice says the total economic cost of software security flaws is about $180 billion a year.

Rice suggests creating a tax on software based on the number and severity of security bugs, even if the cost gets passed on to consumers, in order to hold software manufacturers accountable. He says hackers simply use tests to discover flaws in the software, which software publishers could do before hackers have access to the programs.

The software companies control how much testing they do before programs are released, Rice says, and they do not have the right incentives to do the testing necessary to create secure software. He says the tax model would solve software problems in the same way that taxes help curb pollution from manufacturing. Rather than trying to stop manufacturing or prohibiting pollution, companies are taxed for the amount of pollution they create, motivating them to reduce emissions.

Rice says software vulnerabilities, like pollution, are inevitable, so instead of requiring software to be secure, tax insecurities and allow the market to determine the price it is willing to pay for vulnerabilities in software. Software manufacturers who are the most insecure will pay the most. The tax will also create a system, similar to the safety star-rating system used for cars, to help consumers know what software is the most secure.

* Completely off the subject:  I attended a Linux bootcamp at SANS many moons ago.  It was heinous.  Great instructor, but OMFG it was very, very long.  A 6 day week of 12 hour days in a school chair.  My arse has never been the same.  OTOH, I built my own kernel, which was swell.   I was one of about 6 women at that conference, with about 2000 guys.  Also heinous, except I never had to wait for a toilet.  If you’re into internet security at all you probably know all about SANS already.  They are the end-all and be-all of hackerific security info.