UA-Developed Avatar Is Helping to Screen New Arrivals at Bucharest Airport

UA-Developed Avatar Is Helping to Screen New Arrivals at Bucharest Airport

Published By: UANews, 1/9/2017

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Romanian border police are using a system designed by the University of Arizona called AVATAR (Automated Virtual Agent for Truth Assessments in Real-Time), to screen international travelers at a Bucharest airport. The system is intended to measure body language, verbal responses, and physiological conditions before providing a summary for human personnel. Results from testing in Bucharest could influence whether and how the AVATAR system is implemented in the future.

Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level of Article: 15.4

Extended Discussion Questions

  • How could the AVATAR system’s reports improve the screening of international travelers?
  • Do you think the measurement of physiological variables and body language is an effective method of screening travelers? A fair method?
  • The AVATAR system attempts to detect atypical behavior in order to determine whether individuals are hiding something.
    • How is this similar to an old-fashioned polygraph lie detector? How is it different? Prompt: Could a polygraph learn as it was used?
    • What have you heard about the drawbacks of polygraph lie detectors? Do you think the AVATAR system could have the same problems, or will it solve them? Why do you think that?
  • AVATAR will be screening passengers from all over the world.
    • What issues might arise in evaluating passengers from different cultures? Prompt: Does the same body language mean the same thing in every culture? What about eye contact?
    • How might the researchers address those issues? (Note: It is not clear from the article or the AVATAR website whether/how the developers are currently taking account of cultural differences.)

Relating This Story to the CSP Curriculum Framework

Global Impact Learning Objectives:

  • LO 7.3.1 Analyze the beneficial and harmful effects of computing.
  • LO 7.2.1 Explain how computing has impacted innovations in other fields.
  • LO 7.4.1 Explain the connections between computing and real-world contexts, including economic, social, and cultural contexts.

Global Impact Essential Knowledge:

  • EK 7.3.1A Innovations enabled by computing raise legal and ethical concerns.

Other CSP Big Ideas:

  • Idea 4 Algorithms

Banner Image: “Network Visualization – Violet – Offset Crop”, derivative work by ICSI. New license: CC BY-SA 4.0. Based on “Social Network Analysis Visualization” by Martin Grandjean. Original license: CC BY-SA 3.0

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