Evolv Technology’s AI monitors public places for weapons

The news: Evolution Technology believes its AI can help stem the epidemic of mass shootings in public spaces.

  • The Massachusetts-based company has developed a scanning machine to replace conventional metal detectors, saving people the hassle of stopping and emptying their pockets.
  • The technology deploys a “active sensing” light emission technique using radar and lidar to create images which are then reviewed by an AI, by The Washington Post.
  • Evolv claims its system can identify a weapon concealed on someone walking through the scanner and prompt security to intervene.
  • AI scanners are already deployed at public places As Citi field, Lincoln Center, The Natural History Museumand NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital At New York.

How we got here: The United States has a major mass shooting problem with victimsoccurring in churches, schools and grocery stores.

  • The second deadliest school shooting in US history happened at a Texas elementary school on Tuesday, just over a week after 10 people were fatally shot in a grocery to Buffalo.
  • There was 61 mass shootings in the United States in 2021, nearly one jump to 100% of the 32 incidents in 2017. And 213 mass shootings in the United States have already taken place this year, by NPR.

False positives: While Evolv’s AI scanners are an inconspicuous way to detect firearms, inaccuracies could lead to chaotic scenes in high-traffic locations.

  • New York is considering deployment of AI weapon detectors in the subway. However, false positives could potentially mean dozens of people unnecessarily detained for testing on their daily commute.
  • Data on the Evolv system shows that 190,000 alerts, 172,000 were benign items like umbrellas and laptops. Only 0.8% of alerts concerned weapons, by Focus on New York.

Not a panacea: Despite the false positives, AI detection systems can learn to more accurately identify weapons over time and potentially detect evasion attempts, such as someone altering the shape of a gun.

  • Considering that an Evolv scanner operates between $2,000 and $3,000 per monthaccording to NY Focus, they won’t be ubiquitous, and those plotting mass shootings might opt ​​for less guarded locations.
  • Additionally, as there are more gun deaths in states with weaker gun controls, according to Sky News, areas with lax gun laws might still allow guns in public spaces even with scanners.
  • While technologies like Evolv’s could help monitor weapons in the public sphere, privacy is at stake.
  • The deployment of AI in the workplace has already raised ethical concerns. For weapons detection, anyone taking the subway or heading to a sporting event would be subject to AI scrutiny, raising questions about how the data could be misused.
  • Alternatively, if lawmakers pass legislation applying AI to the universal background check for gun possession, scanners could potentially have fewer guns to detect. In this scenario, the AI could improve the detection of red flags based on buyer history.

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