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News Link • Robots and Artificial Intelligence

You Don't Want the New U.S. Customs Robot to Find You Suspicious

• Clay Dillow via

U.S Customs and Border Protection has a new hire on hand at its Nogales, Ariz., border crossing between the United States and Mexico. CBP has installed an avatar kiosk at the checkpoint to help quickly move persons enrolled in CBP’s Trusted Traveler program through the border crossing quickly, analyzing what they say--both their words and the way they say them--for suspicious signals.

Trusted Traveler is a program that pre-screens international travelers and determines them low-risk, allowing them to pass through customs and immigration checkpoints at airports and border crossings more easily. Enrollees are put through a full background check and an interview with a CBP agent prior to being admitted, but once they are in they can take advantage of priority lanes at CBP checkpoints that move faster and perform less rigorous entrance interviews.

The new avatar speaks and understands both English and Spanish, and evaluates a travelers responses to questions with both speech recognition software and voice anomaly-detection programs. So it’s not just what you say to the avatar that counts, but how you say it. Pause too long while responding or speak in patterns indicative of deception, and the avatar might flag your response. The evaluation of the interview is then beamed to a live agent with a tablet computer, who can decide how to proceed from there. Flagged responses may lead to increased probing into a particular response by live CBP personnel.

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