Select Airports Are Trying out Passenger Lie Detector Tests

Nov 2, 2018

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Airport security is an ever-evolving industry. From the introduction of programs like Global Entry to the use of biometrics to help lines move faster, technology is paving the way when it comes to a quicker trip through customs. The latest endeavor: using artificial intelligence-backed lie detectors to screen passengers at border checkpoints.

The project, called iBorderCtrl, will cost $5.1 million (€4.5 million) and uses “virtual border guard avatars” to ask passengers basic questions like name, age, date of birth and travel purpose according to CNN. Facial movement will be used to determine whether passengers are withholding truthful responses. If a traveler is suspected of lying, the avatar will alert a human, who would then take over. Those deemed honest will be allowed to continue on their way. The hope is that the screenings would be an efficient way of “reducing congestion.”

A trial period kicks off this month and will be used in airports in Hungary, Latvia and Greece on “passengers traveling from outside the EU.” In this phase, “only passengers who give their consent” via forms provided at the airport will be subject to the test.

So far, data has only been collected from 32 trial passengers, but those behind the new technology are hopeful for future success. Once fully up and running, the goal is to hit an 85% success rate. Depending on how you look at it, that’s considerable room for error. Keeley Crockett of Manchester Metropolitan University in England, who is working on the project, said she personally doesn’t believe “you can have a 100% accurate system.”

Let’s hope passengers who fail the first round of screening have better luck answering to a human.

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