Brendan Musgrove – The Human Touch

Brendan Musgrove - Managing Director at Cordant Security
Brendan Musgrove – Managing Director at Cordant Security

Brendan Musgrove, Managing Director at Cordant Security, writes for about artificial intelligence. Brendan writes: “Everywhere I turn it seems that people are either talking or writing about artificial intelligence and how robots are going to change the way we live and work. According to, Artificial Intelligence, or AI, is bringing human intelligence to everyday technologies. We are (apparently) now able to form a relationship with our technology, use it to teach us about our behaviours and to improve how our businesses and communities operate.

“In the security world this means talk of unmanned aircraft that can shine bright lights and broadcast warning messages to intruders, offering a cheaper alternative to human guards; and guard bots that look a bit like daleks and operate like mobile security cameras scanning for people and reading license plates. And of course China is already leading the way having been the first to deploy a new security robot, the AnBot, to help beef up its security at Shenzhen airport. AnBot is almost five feet tall and is equipped with cameras, flashing lights, and an “electric riot fork” that can be used to discourage criminal activity.

“At the risk of being called a Luddite I have to say we are a long way of when robots are at the point of replacing the human element of security. The current technology probably does an OK job of acting as a mobile observation point and to some extent a deterrent. In short it is CCTV on wheels or with wings and please don’t get me started on the ‘electric riot fork’ – this is surely just a disaster waiting to happen!

“Our security guards do so much more than just observe. For them pretty much every day varies and requires a different response. They might be called upon to apprehend a thief, provide directions, analyse some CCTV, welcome some visitors, identify a potential terrorist or help someone who has fallen ill. This range of scenarios is hard to predict and so are the required responses and it is not possible to explicitly train our security guards for every eventuality. We therefore rely on their experience and personality to augment their training enable them to react in the right way. Trying to programme a Guard Bot to contend with every possible issue they might face during an average working week is surely impossible given the current boundaries of AI.

“Perhaps most importantly I also have guards that have shown extreme bravery and extreme empathy during some of the most challenging times. They know the right thing to say to comfort those that are upset and the correct tone of voice to employ in order to prevent a violent situation from escalating. I am not convinced that any machine would be able to replicate these subtle nuances of human interaction in the near future.

“Technology moves at an incredible pace – one only has to look back at the changes in say the ten years to see that. Even so, based on what we currently know about AI, I do not believe that robots will take the place of human security guards any time soon. Yes, we might use them as complementary assets particularly for observation but I for one believe in the importance of the human touch to help keep us safe and secure”.

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