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Lie detector tests at airport security? Yep, it’s coming

USA TODAY logo USA TODAY 11/2/2018 Maeve McDermott
a group of people standing in front of a computer: A Transportation Security Administration security check © Jake Danna Stevens/The Times & Tribune via AP A Transportation Security Administration security check

In several airports in Europe, passengers will be administered lie detector tests powered by artificial intelligence in addition to their normal security steps, according to a press release about the new initiative. 

A new European Union-backed project called iBorderCtrl will install lie detector tests at border checkpoints in Hungary, Latvia and Greece -- three countries that border non-EU nations -- for a test run this month, in which travelers from outside the EU will answer questions from a computer-animated border guard through a webcam.

The press release states the virtual border guard will analyze travelers' micro-expressions to gauge whether they may be lying, with human border guards overseeing the process and stepping in if a security risk is detected.

Travelers deemed to be low-risk during a pre-screening stage will only be asked about their basic information during the lie-detection process, while passengers who may be a higher risk will receive a more detailed screening. 

"It will ask the person to confirm their name, age and date of birth, (and) it will ask them things like what the purpose of their trip is and who is funding the trip," Keeley Crockett, one of the experts involved in the project, told CNN about the screening process.

Some experts have doubts about the experiment, arguing that passengers will simply be more mindful of their physical cues while continuing to lie during the process.

“If you ask people to lie, they will do it differently and show very different behavioral cues than if they truly lie, knowing that they may go to jail or face serious consequences if caught,” Imperial College London's Maja Pantic told the New Scientist. “This is a known problem in psychology.”


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