Making Unique Observations in a Very Cluttered World

Monday, 6 August 2012

Avatar Border Agent Screens Commuters At Arizona Post – a virtual border guard -

Avatar Border Agent Screens Commuters At Arizona Post – a virtual border guard - 

U.S. Customs and Border Protection has a new officer working in Arizona.
He’s hardworking, bilingual, a bit mechanical and not very social with other employees, but he doesn’t complain about long hours or troublesome commuters.
That’s because unlike his flesh-and-bone counterparts this worker is something straight out of a science fiction film. Once given to the realm of films like Blade Runner and the Terminator, this CBP worker is an avatar – a virtual border guard who resides in a kiosk created by researchers at the University of Arizona to help expedite certain border crossings.
Located at the U.S.-Mexico border crossing in Nogales, Arizona, the avatar, who sports a clean-cut look of thick black hair and a striped gray tie, is part of an expansion of the CBP’s Trusted Traveler Program. The idea behind the program is to “provide expedited travel for pre-approved, low-risk travelers through dedicated lanes and kiosks,” the CBP stated.
The Trusted Traveler program was created after the 9/11 attacks, as security ramped up and became longer. To qualify for the program, travelers must undergo a thorough background check against criminal, law enforcement, customs, immigration, agriculture, and terrorist as well as have biometric fingerprint checks and a personal interview with a CBP Officer following their avatar questioning.
As of now, the avatar is monitored by a live and breathing CBP officer who takes cues via an iPad tablet, which they can then use in a follow-up interview. Using speech recognition and voice anomaly-detection software, the avatar will flag any questionable responses for a CBP officer to follow up on, Scientific American reported.

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