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How Much Do AI School Security Systems Decrease Shootings?

As school shootings proliferate — there were 46 in 2022, more than in any year since at least 1999 — educators are turning to dodgy vendors who market misleading and ineffective technology, the Intercept reports. Evolv’s scanners keep popping up in schools across the U.S. In a video produced by the Charlotte-Mecklenburg district about its new $16.5 million system, students spoke about how the technology reassured them. “I know that I’m not going to be threatened with any firearms, any knives, any sort of metallic weapon at all,” one said. Over 65 school districts have bought or tested artificial intelligence gun detection from a variety of companies since 2018, spending $45 million, much of it coming from public coffers. In December, it came out that Evolv, a publicly traded company since 2021, had doctored the results of their software testing. In 2022, the National Center for Spectator Sports Safety and Security, a government body, completed a confidential report showing that previous field tests on the scanners failed to detect knives and a handgun.

When Evolv released a public version of the report, the failures had been excised from the results. Though Evolv touted the report as “fully independent," there was no disclosure that the company itself had paid for the research. Five law firms have announced investigations of Evolv Technology — a partner of Motorola Solutions whose investors include Bill Gates — looking into possible violations of securities law, including claims that Evolv misrepresented its technology and its capabilities The overpromising of artificial intelligence products is an industry-wide problem. The Federal Trade Commission recently released a blog post warning companies, “Keep your AI claims in check.” Among the questions was, “Are you exaggerating what your AI product can do?” At an investor conference in June 2022, Evolv CEO George was asked if the company would have stopped the tragic school shooting in Uvalde, Tex., where 19 students and two teachers were killed. “The answer is when somebody goes through our system and they have a concealed weapon or an open carry weapon, we’re gonna find it, period,” he responded. “We won’t miss it.” In January, the scanners caught a student trying to enter a high school with a handgun in Guilford, N.C. An Evolv spokesperson told WFMY News that their systems had uncovered 100,000 weapons in 2022.


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