UNITED STATES: AI fails to detect knife! After a student was stabbed with a knife and the $3.7 million system failed to detect it, a security company that sells AI weapons scanners to schools is facing new inquiries about its technology.
Ehni Ler Htoo was stabbed with a knife in the hallway of his school in Utica, New York, on Halloween.
A security company called Evolv Technology wants AI weapons scanners to replace conventional metal detectors, combining powerful sensor technology with artificial intelligence to detect weapons instead of just looking for metal.
The system issues an alert when it discovers a concealed weapon, such as knives, bombs, or weapons. The company has promised to create “weapons-free zones” and claims its equipment is accurate. Knives, explosives, and firearms are among the weapons it can locate.
Evolv is a system used in major American stadiums and the Manchester Arena in the UK, but it has been growing in the educational sector and is now present in hundreds of schools across the US.
The Utica Schools Board purchased the Evolv weapons scanning system in March 2022. On October 31, the attacker who attacked Ehni Ler Htoo was seen entering Proctor High School and going through the scanners. Superintendent of Utica Schools Brian Nolan questioned how the pupil got the knife into the school, which was more than 9 inches long.
The school system in Utica conducted an internal investigation after a knife attack. Proctor High School now has 10 metal detectors in place of the scanners, but the remaining 12 schools continue to use the scanners. Three other knives have been discovered on kids at other schools where the Evolv systems are still in use.
Nolan revealed that none of the knives was discovered by the weapons scanner but was discovered by staff members who reported them. The kids who possessed the knives claimed they had passed the system, as it does not detect knives.
The language on Evolv’s website was changed following the stabbing from “Weapons-Free Zones” to “Safe Zones” and omitted the phrase “Weapons-Free Zones”. Now it says “Safer Zones” after another modification.
Schools are often spending millions on new technology only to discover it has hidden weaknesses. Evolv is one of the worst offenders, profiting from the lack of technical expertise in weapons identification among school officials.
Marketing for weapons detection security requires a careful balance between teaching stakeholders about new technologies and preventing the dissemination of information that could be used by malicious persons.
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