NYC’s AI gun detectors hardly work

Key Points:

  • Critics were right to be skeptical of the AI gun detectors pilot in NYC subway stations.
  • Evolv scanners frequently reported false positives, with 85% being false alarms.
  • Evolv’s scanners are less effective than advertised, as indicated by various investigations and a class-action lawsuit.


New York City Mayor Eric Adams recently announced a plan to deploy AI gun detectors at subway stations, a move met with initial enthusiasm but later skepticism from critics, notably the Legal Aid Society. The technology by Evolv Technologies, previously tested at a hospital in the Bronx, produced a staggering number of false positives during its seven-month trial period. Out of 194,000 scans, 50,000 resulted in alarms, with a staggering 85% of these being false positives. Notably, only a fraction of the alarms were triggered by civilians carrying weapons, with the majority being set off by police officers.


Evolv Technologies, the manufacturer of the AI-equipped scanners, purports that its technology can detect a wide range of concealed weapons using safe, ultra-low frequency electromagnetic fields and advanced sensors. However, investigations by bodies like the Federal Trade Commission and the Securities and Exchange Commission, alongside industry testing and even a class-action lawsuit by shareholders, cast doubt on the device’s efficacy. The various probes suggest that Evolv’s scanners may not be as reliable as advertised, raising concerns about their potential deployment in settings like subway stations.



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