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Mayor Adams, NYPD Launch Test of AI Scanners in NYC Subways

Spencer Platt/Getty Images
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Eric Adams and the New York Police Department announced a plan on Thursday to deploy scanners that use artificial intelligence to detect guns in the city’s subway stations.

“This is our Sputnik moment,” Mayor Adams said at a news conference in a Lower Manhattan subway station, according to Gothamist. “Like when Kennedy said we’re going to put a man on the moon. ... Let’s bring on the scanners.”

Adams is still finalizing a deal with the scanners’ manufacturer, Evolv, which is under investigation by the Securities Exchange Commission as well as the Federal Trade Commission. The company recently had to walk back claims that its technology had been tested by the British government, and is now being sued by its investors for misleading them about the efficacy of its weapon-detecting capabilities.

NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Legal Matters Michael Gerber said that MTA passengers would not be required to pass through the scanners.

On Monday, the NYPD dispatched hundreds of additional police officers into the subway in an effort to address fare evasion. Earlier this month, New York Governor Kathy Hochul deployed the National Guard to institute bag checks in New York City’s subway system.

The Thursday morning announcement has already sparked criticism from civil rights advocates.

“The Mayor likened today’s subway scanner announcement to the moon landing, but more accurately he’s jumping the shark,” said Donna Lieberman, the Executive Director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, in a statement. Lieberman criticized the decision to rely on notoriously faulty technology, which would likely collect information from passengers to be stored by the police.

“We should be wary of any flashy new technology that over-promises while raising novel privacy concerns,” she said. “And New Yorkers must ask what preventative and supportive initiatives, like housing, mental health, and employment services could be funded with this expense.”

Read more at The Daily Beast.

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