Artificial intelligence agent pilot launched to expose liars at EU borders

AI is being employed to act as a lie detector to reduce the pressure on country borders and human agents.
Written by Charlie Osborne, Contributing Writer

The European Union has revealed plans to harness artificial intelligence (AI) at the border to weed out suspicious travelers based on their gestures.

You might attempt to 'act casual' at the border if you are carrying more than your allowance for duty-free, or far more seriously, are attempting to smuggle illegal contraband across country lines, but the pilot AI, dubbed iBorderCtrl, will detect the little gestures we cannot but help to make when we are lying and under pressure.

The project, which will be trialed for a period of six months, has been made possible through an EU contribution of roughly €4.5 million.

Across border control in Hungary, Latvia, and Greece, the AI, known as an "intelligent control system," will "deliver more efficient and secure land border crossings to facilitate the work of border guards in spotting illegal immigrants, and so contribute to the prevention of crime and terrorism," according to the EU.

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iBorderCtrl will require travelers to upload pictures of their passport, visa, and proof of funds. A webcam will then be used to answer questions issued by a "computer-animated border guard," that will ask questions in order to either elicit the truth -- or lies.

The "deception detection" capabilities of the artificial intelligence will read the micro-expressions of travelers.

The small gestures we make -- such as blinking, the direction of our gaze, hand gestures, the crossing of arms, eyebrow shifts and the way our lips move can all indicate the truthfulness of what we are saying -- but there are not many of us that can read such gestures quickly and successfully.

The AI, however, intends to take over this role and will ask questions such as those relating to items in a suitcase, reading a total of 38 micro-gestures in the process in order to issue a risk score to every would-be traveler.

This rather unsettling idea is only the first step. Based on this interview, the AI will determine whether or not the traveler is considered a potential risk.

"Travellers who have been flagged as low-risk during the pre-screening stage will go through a short re-evaluation of their information for entry, while higher-risk passengers will undergo a more detailed check," the EU says.

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In this second stage, border officials will cross-check information, including facial footage captured and biometrics such as fingerprints. If the traveler is believed to be a risk, the case is formally handed over to a human agent for further investigation.

"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,' says project coordinator George Boultadakis of European Dynamics in Luxembourg. "iBorderCtrl's system will collect data that will move beyond biometrics and on to biomarkers of deceit."

The trials will begin in lab testing conditions before real-world scenario tests start. However, the accuracy rate of roughly 76 percent -- based on a trial of 30 people -- leaves much to be desired, and so concrete trials are a preferable option to an EU-wide rollout until the lie detection system has been improved.

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Earlier this week, researchers from the Cardiff University and the Charles III University of Madrid revealed VeriPol, an artificial intelligence system which is currently being used across Spain by law enforcement to detect fake reports of criminal activity.

The AI uses a repository of thousands of past police reports to detect patterns suggesting they are untrue -- and potentially filed for purposes such as fraudulent insurance claims -- and then applies these principles to new reports.

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