I read an article earlier this month about the EU implementing lie detectors using Artificial Intelligence (AI) on certain borders with non-EU nations. Apparently, travelers will be grouped into categories and subjected to interviews by a video terminal that will analyze their speech, facial movements, and mannerisms to determine if additional security is needed. Wow, how frightening. And I hope the TSA doesn’t get any more bright ideas and think about bringing this to America.
To be clear, this is only a test program in the EU and only at specific locations, but the specter of this becoming widespread is fraught with problems.
First off, a computer cannot replace a human. Period. A computer can certainly assist in gathering the information needed, but to have a computer make a decision about further screening is frightening especially when you consider the number of breaches that we see on a daily basis.
And while a human will be there to oversee the computer, they are not going to be there to actually witness the behavior of the traveler, which is critical. And if there is some threatening behavior, will there be enough time to mitigate it? Can the human assistant radio the threat to an on-site human to resolve it?
Travel is stressful. From getting on the plane to filling out the forms to making sure there was nothing stupid packed in your bags. I know whenever I travel internationally I get stressed out crossing a border. What if the fruit in that fruit snack I bought is one of the prohibited fruits? Did I fill out the immigration form correctly? Where did I put my passport? Do I have to pay a transit fee? Do I have the money? In what currency? You get the idea. Now what happened when robot on a television screen begins to ask you questions like “who funded this trip?” I mean I paid for it, but it is a work trip, so do I say it my work? Me? Or did grand-mom give me money to go on the trip—did she fund it or me? Freak out a little bit and some algorithm might determine you are a threat!
The TSA has rolled out several initiatives all under the guise of making us more safe. Few have been deemed a success. Behavioral science is best practiced by humans and supplemented with technology. Airports across the US currently employ that with humans watching video—trained people are looking for unusual behaviors.
As we have learned in our own industry, a computer can certainly assist us, but they are still unable to replace a valued travel professional. Just as a computer is unable to determine what type of experience a client will have on a trip; a computer alone is unable to determine what type of threat (if any) a traveler might be. It just will not work. Thoughts? Leave a comment!