Global Hour

Virtual Border Wall: Praiseworthy or Problematic?

A major border security contract has been awarded to Californian technology start-up by the Trump administration. The company is required to use AI technology on an unprecedented scale to fulfil the president’s decision to prevent illegal crossings from Mexico. The deal is highly favoured by the Democrats.

How Will It Work

The AI technology, coined as Andruil Sytem, is contracted to deploy hundreds of solar-powered mobile surveillance towers designed to operate in mountainous locations. With the help of cameras and thermal imaging, the system will detect moving objects and feed an artificial-intelligence system capable of distinguishing among animals, humans and vehicles, sending location and mapping information right to the U.S. patrol agents’ devices.

Point of Concern

The success rate of the Andruil system in its initial stage has proved to be of great significance, however, this cannot make the citizens deviate from the fact that Trump has spent over a billion of tax dollars to infuse into this project. Considering the economic setback experienced on a global scale due to the pandemic, using a huge chunk of tax money to build this project and not catering to the problem at hand, is raising many eyebrows.

The most important question that has been raised by many is– If the Anduril system can spot migrants and smugglers from miles away and guide the U.S. Agents right to them, what is the point of building a costly physical barrier in isolated border areas where there are few crossings?

Opposition to the ‘Virtual Border Wall’

As discussed above, many have expressed their dissent on this issue. From Joe Biden to several other democrats, President Trump has been facing quite some criticism on the recent project for various reasons.

To oppose the program, many Democrats have promoted “smart” border technology as a more effective and cheaper alternative to the $15 billion concrete-and-steel version Trump is racing to install and which he is promoting on the campaign trail.

Joe Biden, Democratic presidential candidate, has also criticized the plans. He has also said that if he is elected as the president, he will put a halt to the project and ensure that he doesn’t plan to spend money on physical barriers.

What happens if the project shuts down?

Regardless of the outcome of the deal, Andruil’s contract with the U.S government seems to be benefitting the company in the near future.

“No matter where we go as a country, we’re going to need to have situational awareness on the border,” Matthew Steckman, Anduril’s chief revenue officer, said in an interview. “No matter if talking to a Democrat or a Republican, they agree that this type of system is needed.”


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