Gun Detection With AI: A Promising Solution or Risks Ahead?

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AI technology presents a hopeful remedy for addressing gun violence by identifying potential threats and serving as a preventive measure. Its mere presence can dissuade potential wrongdoers, with the ultimate goal of safeguarding lives and bolstering community safety. Nevertheless, it is imperative that we exercise caution and consider the limitations and potential hazards associated with the deployment of AI in gun detection.

Shooting in public places such as schools, shopping centers, and churches has been a persistent problem, particularly in the United States. In different countries, the debate rages on whether gun licenses should be controlled.

The public continues to pay the price of an individual choosing to shoot random people. Gun control in the U.S. is an enshrined right, and changes to this will not happen quickly.

In the interim, artificial intelligence (AI) offers some hope in offering a better response to shooting. It doesn’t stop the shooter from arriving on the scene but can potentially help spot the shooter or reduce the cost of human lives.

Multiple companies have been rolling out AI solutions that integrate with security in public places, such as security cameras, and provide on-time feedback to security personnel to act when required.

However, the AI solutions may not be without its shortcomings. Experts maintain that in the name of scanning public places, the visitors’ privacy will be compromised, and AI could potentially be used to discriminate between communities or races.

But shooting is a big problem, and security and safety are precious. No wonder that the market of AI in offering a solution has grown.


How Can AI Help Reduce Mass Shootings?

As a case study, let’s try to understand how Zeroeyes, a company that provides AI solutions to monitor and prevent or control gun violence.

The AI software integrates with surveillance cameras in public places and watches the visitors.

When the camera spots a person with a visible firearm, the software flashes a red light in the response room at a trained responder.

The responder quickly reviews the footage, and if a threat is deemed likely, the security is immediately alarmed, who themselves can inform law enforcement.

The whole flow might seem like a lot of time, but according to Rob Huberty, one of the founders of Zeroeyes with Sam Alaimo, both ex-Navy SEALS,

“You walk in front of a camera to the time they’ve made this determination and the time that you receive that alert, 3-5 seconds.”

It’s about saving precious time. Sam Alaimo, one of the founders of Zeroeyes, maintains,

If there’s an assault rifle outside of a school, people want to know more information. If one life is saved, that’s a victory.”

Zeroeyes has also been testing robots and drones to enhance the ability to spot a shooter, and AI comes in where human security faces limitations. It’s impossible for security personnel to monitor a crowded public place constantly, but the combination of AI and security cameras can do the job accurately and tirelessly.

How Does it Work?

The AI-powered weapon detection system relies on cutting-edge sensor technologies and sophisticated machine learning algorithms. These sensors play a pivotal role in collecting and analyzing data from the system’s surroundings, while machine learning algorithms are employed to make informed decisions based on this data.

Notably, security cameras play a crucial role in this setup, continuously sending sample frames for analysis using deep learning algorithms that have been trained to identify weapons.

Upon detection of potential threats, the system promptly generates an alert containing the identified frame, which is then forwarded to the security team for immediate action.

Questions Over the Use of AI

Three questions on AI’s role in controlling mass shootings remain unanswered, including whether it violates an individual’s right to privacy and secrecy. And can it not be used to discriminate?

Privacy and Security

Thirty states in the US allow people to lawfully own and carry a gun. When you use the AI system in these places, innocent people will likely be harassed.

According to Barry Friedman, who is a law professor at New York University with an interest in AI ethics,

Carrying a gun is lawful in most places in this country now. It’s very hard to know what you’re going to search for in a way that doesn’t impinge on people’s rights.

How can AI can distinguish between lawfully and unlawfully held guns?

Bias and Discrimination

Experts fear that the AI could be used to harass people based on their race and color, depending on the data-sets used for training.

Greiner and Alaimo, however, contend that their software doesn’t discriminate based on race and color.

The Bottom Line

Despite persisting doubts and questions from experts, the market for AI software continues to thrive.

Customers seem to prioritize safety and security over privacy concerns. Mass shootings leave families devastated and traumatized, creating a strong demand for a lasting solution.

While government action on gun control remains elusive, AI software, though untested and contentious, fills a void in addressing public concerns.

As the debate rages on, one sentiment may be that, for the time being, the urgency of saving lives outweighs privacy concerns.

Until governmental intervention or unforeseen circumstances prompt adjustments to AI systems, the manufacturers of these solutions may continue to play a significant role in enhancing public safety.


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Kaushik Pal
Technology writer
Kaushik Pal
Technology writer

Kaushik is a technical architect and software consultant with over 23 years of experience in software analysis, development, architecture, design, testing and training. He has an interest in new technologies and areas of innovation. He focuses on web architecture, web technologies, Java/J2EE, open source software, WebRTC, big data and semantic technologies. He has demonstrated expertise in requirements analysis, architectural design and implementation, technical use cases and software development. His experience has covered various industries such as insurance, banking, airlines, shipping, document management and product development, etc. He has worked on a wide range of technologies ranging from large scale (IBM…