Throughout The United States of America, President Trump’s border wall is one of the biggest topics of debate. From the moral and ethical standpoints, to the contention over it’s funding, it seems as if everyone has differing opinions on it. Now the European Countries are entering their own border control protection debate. The EU has devised an entirely different protocol to protect their borders than President Trump. Depending how you look at it, their method can be technologically inspiring or flat out frightening. The EU intends to use drones with artificial intelligence capabilities to police it’s borders.
This new initiative is called Roborder, and it is £7.7m multiyear project that will work along the land and coastal borders of Europe. It is a program that will integrate strategically placed land vehicles with swarms of aerial and submersible drones. All three defensive devices will be equipped with an array of highly sensitive sensors that can detect, track, and recognize human individuals, as well as other illegal substances and equipment. Whether the drones sense you from picking up heat signatures, vibrations, or even from registering the electronic frequency coming from the phone in your pocket, it will soon be very difficult to pass along the EU borders with detection.
Described as an Autonomous Swarm of Heterogeneous Robots for Border Surveillance, the program is being coordinated out of Lisbon, Portugal. The pilot program will first be deployed along the Bulgarian-Turkish and Estonian-Russian borders. It will focus on three main objectives. The first objective will be to track illegal operations such as unauthorized border crossings of both land and sea. They will also be tracking the illegal transportation of substances, weapons, and explosives. The second objective will be to track wireless communications that are being transmitted in preparation of human, drug, and weapon trafficking. And the third objective of the initial pilot program will be to track environmental issues such as pollution caused by spills along the borders.
All three of these objectives are clearly situations that need to be closely monitored along the EU’s complicated border routes. These drones will be able to track on multiple levels because of the impressive technology they house in combination with the ground coverage they can provide. There is no argument that the borders do need to be patrolled and that some pretty nefarious actions take place along them. The question is whether or not using such highly capable machines is for the greater good or a breach human rights.
Many have voiced concerns about putting too much power into the hands of robots to police citizens. There is the fear of these machines becoming “Killer Robots”, hence the development of committees like The International Committee for Robot Arms Control. Organizations like ICRAC do not wish to slow down technological innovations, but rather provide a way of controlling how these machines target individuals while respecting safety and privacy concerns.
That is one of the primary concerns people are having with Roborder. They agree that the borders need to be made safer, and that the authorities tasked with this need assistance. But just how much control is to be left to artificially intelligent machines rather than the discerning mind of a human is the question.