CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Thomasen on Robot-Enhanced Interrogation

Kristen Thomasen (University of Windsor, Faculty of Law) has posted an abstract of Examining the Constitutionality of Robot Enhanced Interrogation (Robot Law, Calo, Froomkin, Kerr (eds) Edward Elgar Publishing, 2016) on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
 
The future of technology-assisted lie-detection may take the form of automated devices that can interact with a suspect while simultaneously monitoring and analyzing the suspect’s verbal and physiological reactions to questions in order to determine, potentially with greater accuracy, whether the subject is lying. I refer to these devices as “robot interrogators.” As government agencies come closer to deploying robot interrogators, challenging moral and legal questions arise. This chapter tackles one of these questions by considering how robot interrogators might engage the fundamental constitutional rights to privacy and silence. Referring to United States government-funded research into the development of robot interrogators for use at border crossings, this chapter urges caution in the deployment of this emerging technology.
A robot interrogator is not simply an automated version of a human police officer or border agent. Rather, it is more closely analogized to a law-enforcement agent equipped with deception-detecting technologies like the polygraph or fMRI; technologies that cannot be used on a suspect without permission or lawful justification. But the avatar goes beyond this analogy with its ability to easily modify the characteristics of the interrogator and through this, its capacity to psychologically manipulate an interview subject. This chapter seeks to show that this technology is different than a human interrogator under both the psychological and the technological pillars of interrogation. The potential cost and time savings, and the purported improved effectiveness and accuracy, of this device over a human interrogator cannot overshadow the constitutional rights to privacy and silence that will be implicated in new and challenging ways through its use.

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/crimprof_blog/2019/08/thomasen-on-robot-enhanced-interrogation.html

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