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The Risks of Relying on AI for School Security

By Oliver Barnes, DTI

As schools across the country look for ways to enhance security and keep students safe, many are turning to artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning technologies. AI-powered systems can analyze video feeds, detect potential threats, and automate lockdown procedures. However, while AI offers some powerful capabilities, there are also significant risks to relying too heavily on these technologies for school security.

Bias and Inaccuracy

One of the biggest risks of AI systems is the potential for bias and inaccuracy in their algorithms. AI models are trained on data sets that may contain societal biases around race, gender, age and other factors. This can lead the AI to disproportionately flag certain groups as potential threats. There have already been incidents of facial recognition misidentifying students of color. An inaccurate AI could potentially escalate situations unnecessarily or miss real threats.

Privacy Concerns

The increased use of AI video monitoring raises major privacy concerns for students, teachers and staff. Having their faces, voices and behaviors continuously analyzed raises civil liberty issues. There are also cybersecurity risks if this sensitive data is hacked or exposed.

AI as a Quick Fix

There is a risk that school administrators will look at AI security as a quick technological fix rather than addressing deeper issues around school climate, disciplinary policies, mental health supports and community engagement. AI cannot make up for an unhealthy school environment - in fact, excessive security measures can contribute to that.

As AI capabilities advance, these systems may become essential security tools. But they must be implemented carefully and with oversight to mitigate the very real risks around bias, privacy violations, over-reliance on fallible technology, and treating AI as a substitute for comprehensive policies and supports that make schools safer at their core.

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