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Pricey AI weapons system misses knife, student subsequently stabbed

By Lee Cleveland - June 1, 2023

AI weapons scanners have been removed from Proctor High School in Utica, New York, and have been replaced by traditional metal detectors – But AI scanners are still being used in the other 12 schools within the district

Per the BBC, a stabbing incident took place at Proctor High School in Utica, New York, last Halloween, where an 18-year-old student suffered multiple stab wounds to the head, neck, shoulder, back, and hand. The school had previously invested in a multimillion-dollar AI weapons detection system from Evolv Technology. However, the AI weapons scanner failed to detect a 9-inch knife that was brought into the school and used in the stabbing.

According to Connor Healy, a director at the security research firm TVPM, there is a concerning trend of schools purchasing new technology based on exaggerated marketing claims and later discovering hidden flaws, resulting in substantial financial losses. Healy specifically mentioned Evolv Technology as one of the companies taking advantage of the lack of technical expertise among school officials regarding weapons detection.

Evolv Technology expressed regret over the incident and stated that its primary goal is to ensure the safety of students across the country.

The Utica City School District had reportedly purchased Evolv systems for all 13 schools in the district, but since the stabbing, three additional knives have been found on students that were not detected by the AI weapons scanner.

Consequently, Proctor High School replaced the AI scanners with traditional metal detectors, while the other 12 schools in the district continue to use the AI scanners.

The BBC reported that the students who carried the knives claimed to have walked through the weapons detection system without being detected. Brian Nolan, the superintendent of the Utica City School District, confirmed that the AI weapons scanner did not detect the knives.

Evolv Technology’s website previously emphasized “Weapons-Free Zones,” but following the incident, the language was changed to “Our Mission: Safe Zones” and then updated to “Our Mission: Safer Zones.” The company aims to replace traditional metal detectors with AI-powered scanners, which they claimed could detect knives.

The incident has sparked a debate on the effectiveness and reliability of AI-powered weapons detection systems in schools. Efforts are now focused on finding more accurate and dependable methods to ensure student safety in educational institutions.


Tags: AI