The European Union plans to install an AI-powered lie detector at border control checkpoints, with trials beginning in Hungary, Latvia and Greece soon.
The countries will spend the next six months trialling the tech, known as iBorderCtrl, at four different crossing points, in an experiment led by Hungarian police.
"We're employing existing and proven technologies - as well as novel ones - to empower border agents to increase the accuracy and efficiency of border checks," project coordinator George Boultadakis of European Dynamics told EU press people from Luxembourg.
"iBorderCtrl's system will collect data that will move beyond biometrics and on to biomarkers of deceit."
The virtual customs officer will ask questions like, "What's in your suitcase?" crosschecked with "If you open the suitcase and show me what is inside, will it confirm that your answers were true?"
Pass the test, and you'll get a QR code allowing you passage. Fail, and the virtual customs officer will ramp up the passive-aggression, whilst alerting a human agent to come and take over.
During the trial, the system isn't to make any stay-or-go decisions; this is just for the benefit of seeing if the system works.
Prelaunch experiments with an older system had a success rate of around 75 per cent, which the team behind iBorderCtrl believes is because its tests were done with volunteers who had been asked to lie.
As such, this live demo will not only test the system but provide lots of data for the system to learn from, with the aim to be closer to 85 per cent by the end of the trial.
At this stage, the results remain highly experimental, and with some experts still questioning the ability of an AI not to show bias if there's even a flicker of favour in its human masters, we will have to wait to see if this scheme is extended.
We'd like to hope it will be, as the trial has already cost a cool $5 million.
Experts have criticised the system as 'pseudoscience'.
Bruno Verschuere, a senior lecturer in forensic psychology at the University of Amsterdam, told De Volskrant:
"Non-verbal signals, such as micro-expressions, really do not say anything about whether someone is lying or not. This is the embodiment of everything that can go wrong with lie detection. There is no scientific foundation for the methods that are going to be used now.
"Once these systems are put into use, they will not go away. The public will only hear the success stories and not the stories about those who have been wrongly stopped."
Bennet Kleinberg, an assistant professor in data science at University College London, added: "This can lead to the implementation of a pseudoscientific border control."
This article was updated on 2/11/18 to reflect the reactions of academics.
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