Security Business

MAR 2018

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Page 27 of 133

I recently read an interest- ing Fortune magazine arti- cle by Jennifer Alsever that discusses the use of voice for secure authentication (read it at artificial-intelligence-voice-profiling). Could voice authentication chal- lenge other biometrics? e article cites work in Artificial Intelligence (AI) being conducted at Carnegie Mellon University's Language Technologies Institute under Professor Rita Singh, with whom I recently had the chance to speak. Dr. Singh notes in an academic paper that the different sounds that comprise continuous speech – strings of spoken words – are produced in rapid succession by modifying the shape of the vocal tract by moving the "articulators" (tongue, lips, jaw etc.). Different shapes then result in different resonance patterns, which are heard and interpreted as meaningful speech, or speech-like sounds. "While this amazing variety of sounds is produced relatively effort- lessly by a speaker, it is driven by com- plex physiological and mental factors that influence the motion, configura- tion and airflow in the vocal tract," Dr. Singh explains. "ese influences are different for different types and combinations of sounds produced as we speak, and at micro-levels, these influences are dif- ferent for every speaker," Singh contin- ues. "As a result, it is almost impossible for the voices of two different individ- uals to be exactly the same at all levels. is, and the fact that many of these influences are beyond the voluntary 26 Security Dealer & Integrator / March 2018 Giving Voice to Biometrics Researchers are working hard to develop an AI-based voice recognition solution Tech Trends BY RAY COULOMBE Can the bar be set high enough so that it is virtually impossible for someone to impersonate another's voice to the satisfaction of the AI-based system? The research suggests that this is likely the case." control of the speaker, make exact and complete mimicry impossible." Micro-articulometry is the name given to the technology used to deduce these human profile param- eters, employing AI to discover micro-patterns – or micro-signatures – that occur in some combinations of spoken sounds. "Micro-signatures are at durational scales that may be imperceptible to humans and unobservable in stan- dard visual or other representations of speech," Dr. Singh says. Singh's work suggests that the human voice can definitively identify a person and, potentially, elements that relate to the speaker's physical, physi- ological, medical, behavioral, psycho- logical, demographic, environmental and other characteristics. Putting it into Practice In a recent application, the U.S. Coast Guard has worked successfully with Professor Singh since 2014 to com- bat fake distress calls, where the cost of response can run from $5,000 to $15,000 per hour. Advanced voice analysis can provide information not only about the physi- cal characteristics of the caller, but also the environment they are calling from. It can identify serial callers and work with snippets of voice communica- tion kept intentionally short to convey urgency. Another potential application is to combat "swatting" – the placing of bogus calls to law enforcement advis- ing of dangerous activities to prompt a strong deployment response. In January, Tyler Barriss of Los Angeles called authorities in Wichita, Kan., to advise of a made-up impend- ing event involving a weapon and threat of fire. Police arrived on the scene, fatally shooting an unsuspect- ing Andrew Finch as he reached for his waistband. Barriss had also been charged in 2015 for making a bomb threat to a television station and supposedly had considered swatting FBI headquarters. In quite a different vein, Dr. Singh used her methods to analyze the voice in a 1991 phone interview by People magazine with a "publicist" identify- ing himself as John Miller, who praised one Donald Trump. She concluded that the voice was, in fact, Donald Trump himself – although her scien- tific confidence level is not a full 100 percent. Dr. Singh also noted that Mr. Trump may have an issue with his nose that affects his speech.

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