Evolv’s AI-equipped scanners, designed to resemble metal detectors, utilize ‘safe, ultra-low frequency electromagnetic fields and sophisticated sensors’ to detect hidden weapons. CEO Peter George said these devices can identify nearly any weapon type. (Source: Image by RR)

Mayor Adams Advocates for AI Surveillance Despite Evolv’s Legal Challenges

New York City plans to implement AI technology to detect guns at subway turnstiles, a move announced by Mayor Eric Adams. This technology, supplied by Massachusetts-based Evolv, is under scrutiny due to investigations by the FTC and SEC, alongside a class action lawsuit. Despite these concerns, the city is moving forward with a 90-day pilot program, adhering to the POST Act’s transparency requirements for surveillance technology. As noted in theverge.com, the aim is to enhance safety on public transport by detecting weapons more efficiently, with Evolv’s scanners already deployed in various venues across the country.

Evolv’s technology, which appears similar to metal detectors but employs AI for weapon detection, has been both praised for its potential and criticized for inaccuracies, such as misidentifying harmless objects as weapons. Despite these challenges, Evolv claims its system can identify a wide range of threats based on electromagnetic fields and advanced sensors. The company’s credibility has been questioned following reports of manipulated test results and failures in accurately detecting weapons, sparking a broader debate on the reliability of such AI surveillance tools.

The technology’s rollout has prompted investigations by the Federal Trade Commission and the Securities and Exchange Commission into Evolv’s claims about its AI detection system’s effectiveness. These inquiries, coupled with a class action lawsuit from investors alleging misrepresentation of product efficacy, highlight significant skepticism surrounding the technology’s current capabilities and ethical implications.

Amidst concerns about the potential for false alarms and privacy invasion, New York City’s initiative has faced criticism from public defenders and citizens wary of becoming test subjects for surveillance technology. Despite these challenges and the public’s increasing unease over safety, Mayor Adams remains committed to exploring AI-driven solutions to gun violence, stressing the importance of leveraging technology to improve public safety, even as crime rates in the city show a decline. This pilot program represents a contentious step forward in the intersection of technology, safety, and civil liberties.

read more at theverge.com