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Futurist says drones with biometrics will be deployed against mass shootings

Futurist says drones with biometrics will be deployed against mass shootings

Futurist and celebrity speaker Thomas Frey is hailing a new solution for the epidemic of mass shootings in the United States that sounds straight from an episode of Black Mirror: Artificial intelligence-enabled drones.

The former IBM engineer said in a recent blog post that flying machines could be upgraded into advanced crisis management tools.

Biometric capabilities such as ocular scanning or fingerprint identification could enhance the drones’ ability to identify individuals even in scenarios where facial recognition is insufficient. AI can be employed to analyze body language and facial expressions to make judgments about the likely intentions of individuals, writes Frey, who is the founder of the DaVinci Institute think tank.

The drone would be equipped with other technologies, including sensors allowing real-time tracking of threats, loudspeakers and light signals for communication, and AI systems analyzing body language and facial expressions.

The machine could also have an AI bot installed specializing in crisis negotiation with suspects. If negotiation doesn’t work, equipping drones with non-lethal weapons such as tasers, pepper spray, rubber bullets or net guns might do the trick.

Finally, if one drone doesn’t work perhaps a swarm of drones will: Installing drone-to-drone communication systems could allow them to respond to complex situations in coordination.

Frey’s futuristic predictions on drone surveillance may sound like a dystopian sci-fi thriller but they are also not so far from reality. In February, it became known that the U.S. Air Force awarded a contract to defense supplier RealNetworks two years ago to integrate a facial recognition system into its drones.

Other governments are also working on flying killer robots. In 2020, the Turkish Armed Forces added Kargu kamikaze drones with biometric facial recognition made by defense supplier STM to its arsenal.

Frey’s plan for drones that hunt down active shooters may, however, be upended by upcoming legislation. The state of Illinois, for instance, has passed a ban on the use of facial recognition on video feeds coming from drones. Exceptions are allowed in cases of terrorist attacks.

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