A lie-detecting virtual border official nicknamed “Elvis” is the latest high-tech approach to securing borders in the United States.
Well, “securing borders” – or just harassing people in general with populist paranoia.
Developed by University of Arizona researchers in collaboration with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the computer is known as the Automated Virtual Agent for Truth Assessments in Real-Time — or AVATAR — kiosk.
It uses sensors to screen passengers for unusual physiological responses to questioning — which can indicate a subject is lying…
The kiosk is being trialled at Dennis DeConcini Port in Nogales, Arizona — a checkpoint on the U.S.-Mexico border — as a way of processing passengers looking to sign up to CBP’s “Trusted Traveler” program. The program allows travelers pre-approved as “low-risk” to be fast-tracked through security processes.
Applicants for the program must undergo an interview and biometric fingerprinting to be eligible for the program — both of which can be performed by the AVATAR kiosk…
Travelers simply stand in front of the unit — which “looks like an ATM on steroids,” according to Derrick — and respond to yes/no questions asked in Spanish or English. “You speak to it like you speak to a person,” he said.
Their answers are monitored, with any unusual physiological responses passed on to “a human field agent” who then subjects them to “a more careful interview process,” said CBP spokesman Bill Brooks.
Unusual responses were not a sure sign of a lie, said Derrick. “There might be valid reasons for it beyond deception…”
If you dare to be a non-conformist.
Brooks said the project was still in the early phase of field testing, and participating in the AVATAR interview process was entirely voluntary at this stage.
But if successful, the initiative could be rolled out in other parts of CBP’s operations. Derrick said it was hoped that, as well as providing better detection of suspicious behavior, the AVATAR kiosk would prove to be “a really important time and money saving tool.”
And you WILL answer the machine’s questions or become a suspect. Some of us already feel like suspects in our own country – all the time. Ever wonder if that’s the effect desired by Homeland Insecurity?