NYC Mayor Eric Adams has a new plan to make the city’s subways safe: metal detectors. But these are not just any metal detectors because these detectors come with AI. As for how well they work, it’s not looking so good.

“This is a Sputnik moment,” Adams said at a news conference Thursday. “When President Kennedy said ‘we’re gonna put a man on the Moon’ and everyone responded.”

After multiple speeches from different city officials about the metal detectors, a quick display of them in action showed that yes, the detectors could determine when a gun was on someone’s person while ignoring metallic objects like phones and other electronics as people walked through at an average pace. However, there is a 3-second delay before the detector beeps and plays a message asking the person to step to the right. Officers will be at these detectors viewing an iPad for scans and checking those who set off the alarm.

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As for how the AI comes into play, well that wasn’t made clear in the demonstration. Evolv, the maker of the metal detectors, claims on its site that AI develops patterns of what an object is based on its shape and metal content. This lets the detectors quickly determine if a metal item is a cell phone or a gun. Who knows what happens if someone has a gun on them shaped like an iPhone?

The new AI metal detectors aren’t showing up at subway stations just yet. There is a required 90-day waiting period before the new technology rolls out as the NYPD determines the best strategy for the detectors across the subway system.

NYC has undergone multiple tests in the past couple of years on new programs that are allegedly designed to make the city safer. These include cameras on train cars, scanning software to determine who dodge the subway fare, and robot dogs. According to the stats, crime is down, however, high-profile episodes of crime saturate the media, as we saw this week when women went to TikTok to talk about being punched in the face by random people while out in the city.


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