US-Mexico border robot dogs escalate AI-driven surveillance threat

The US Department of Homeland Security’s announcement last year of deploying “robot dogs” along the US-Mexico border has raised concerns about the increasing use of artificial intelligence (AI) in border security operations. The programme aims to enhance the presence of US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and reduce human exposure to life-threatening hazards in the harsh Southwest landscape.

The growing reliance on AI-reliant surveillance technology has forced undocumented individuals into increasingly dangerous territories. In 2020, Elbit Systems of America, a subsidiary of Elbit Systems of Israel, unveiled an AI-based solution for the CBP to identify humans or vehicles approaching the border wall. By 2022, the CBP had established an AI Center of Innovation and embraced AI integration to support its mission across 48 countries.

The Biden administration supports the concept of a virtual wall, which is considered less sensational than the physical wall proposed by former President Donald Trump. However, critics argue that the use of AI in border security is still a form of war, regardless of the technology used.

Anduril Industries, a defence company backed by billionaire Peter Thiel, is a significant player in the AI border game. In 2022, the company secured a contract with the CBP to deploy 189 autonomous surveillance towers on the southwestern US border. The Border Security Expo held in El Paso, Texas, showcased Anduril’s surveillance technology alongside robot dogs and other AI-powered devices.

Todd Miller, co-founder of The Border Chronicle, observed that AI has gone into “hyper-drive” on the border enforcement front, with little pushback. The use of AI-powered surveillance towers, facial recognition software, and other technologies adds to the inhumanity of the US-Mexico border. The increasing militarisation of the border and the use of AI technology not only affects refuge seekers but also impacts the wider population, as demonstrated by the CBP’s deployment of a Predator drone over Minneapolis in response to protests in 2020.

As the world enters an era governed by technology with no physical or ethical boundaries, it is essential to consider the dangerous implications of AI integration in border security operations.

World News


With a Bachelor's Degree in English, Jenn has plenty of experience writing and editing on different topics. After spending many years teaching English in Thailand, Jenn has come to love writing about Thai culture and the experience of being an ex-pat in Thailand. During long holidays, she travels to North of Thailand just to have Khao Soi!

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