Re: Review: The Truth Machine (a speculative novel) by James L. Halperin

From: Simon McClenahan (
Date: Tue Sep 24 2002 - 12:39:26 MDT

  ----- Original Message -----
  From: Aaron McBride

  Once the truth machine (a device that can detect with 100% accuracy if someone is lying) is invented and deployed, nobody can plot to release grey goo, let alone cheat on their spouse, without getting caught. Eventually, as people get used to having the truth machine around, they don't even try to lie. Most people even stop doing things that they would have to lie about later. I'm not going to tell you the ending, but as you guessed, things don't work out as well as they had planned.

This truth machine sounds like it has a similar effect as the precogs that could see the future in the movie Minority Report . . As you say, things don't work out as well as they had planned. I'm guessing it was a social or political issue that screwed things up.

Although the movie or book ends at whatever surprising twist that undermines the power of system in place, I still think it would be naive to think that such systems would simply be discarded. There's always potential for a sequel or follow-up in using the latest technology. The only exceptions I can think of to this general rule are true mysteries such as how the Egyptian pyramids were built. Come the Singularity, I think that the old adage "everything old is new again" will still apply. Truth machines (a.k.a. polygraph lie detectors?) and precogs (assuming that it is indeed possible to receive projections from the future) will be used forever more once they have been invented, just applied in a more sophisticated way to make them more accurate.


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