Horsforth author Martyn Bedford inspired by lie detectors

Wharfedale Observer: Author and creative writing lecturer at Horsforth's Leeds Trinity University Martyn Bedford Author and creative writing lecturer at Horsforth's Leeds Trinity University Martyn Bedford

A computer programme which can spot when someone is lying is the inspiration for a short story being written by author Martyn Bedford.

The creative writing lecturer from Horsforth-based Leeds Trinity University has been learning about ‘Silent Talker’ – said to be the most sophisticated lie-detection device ever invented.

Martyn has been collaborating with Dr James O’Shea from Manchester Metropolitan University who, along with colleagues, has spent more than ten years researching and developing Silent Talker.

The computer programme uses advanced facial imaging analysis to detect when someone is lying. It is said to have an accuracy rate of 80 per cent.

Martyn has been commissioned by Comma Press, to write a story for Beta-Life: Short Stories from an A-Life Future – a collection of speculative fiction set in the year 2070. Supported by the European Commission’s TRUCE (Training and Research in Unconventional Computing in Europe) programme, the project has paired 15 writers with researchers in computing and artificial intelligence at universities in the UK and mainland Europe.

Martyn, an award-winning writer of seven novels and numerous short stories, said: “It’s a fascinating area of research.

“What’s particularly interesting, for the purposes of this anthology, is in speculating how far the Silent Talker technology might have developed by 2070. Will we live in a society where lying has become virtually impossible – where anyone can aim a camera or camera-phone or android device at someone else and know, instantly, whether they are telling the truth?”

Martyn has read the research paper published by the MMU team and recently travelled to Manchester to meet Dr O’Shea to discuss his work in more detail.

“Jim and I had a bit of fun travelling 56 years into the future in our imaginations,” he said.

“The science and technology of lie-detection are fascinating in themselves but, as a fiction writer, I’m especially drawn to the ethical, social, political and psychological implications.”

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