• Greek data watchdog to rule on AI systems in refugee camps

    A forthcoming decision on the compliance of surveillance and security systems in Greek refugee camps could set a precedent for how AI and biometric systems are deployed for ‘migration management’ in Europe

    Greece’s data protection watchdog is set to issue a long-awaited decision on the legality of controversial high-tech surveillance and security systems deployed in the country’s refugee camps.

    The Greek Data Protection Authority’s (DPA) decision, expected by the end of the year, concerns in part a new multimillion-euro Artificial Intelligence Behavioural Analytics security system, which has been installed at several recently constructed refugee camps on the Aegean islands.

    The system – dubbed #Centaur and funded through the European Union (EU) – relies on algorithms and surveillance equipment – including cameras, drones, sensors and other hardware installed inside refugee camps – to automatically detect purported threats, alert authorities and keep a log of incidents. Hyperion, another system that relies on biometric fingerprint data to facilitate entry and exit from the refugee camps, is also being examined in the probe.

    Centaur and #Hyperion came under investigation in March 2022, after several Greek civil society organisations and a researcher filed a complaint to the Greek DPA questioning the legality of the programs under Greek and European laws. The Greek DPA’s decision could determine how artificial intelligence (AI) and biometric systems are used within the migration management context in Greece and beyond.

    Although the data watchdog’s decision remains to be seen, a review of dozens of documents obtained through public access to documents requests, on-the-ground reporting from the islands where the systems have been deployed, as well as interviews with Greek officials, camp staff and asylum seekers, suggest the Greek authorities likely sidestepped or botched crucial procedural requirements under the European Union’s (EU) privacy and human rights law during a mad rush to procure and deploy the systems.

    “It is difficult to see how the DPA will not find a breach,” said Niovi Vavoula, a lecturer at Queen Mary University of London, who petitioned the Greek DPA alongside Greek civil society organisations Homo Digitalis, The Hellenic League for Human Rights, and HIAS Greece.

    She said “major shortcomings” identified include the lack of appointment of a data protection officer at the Greek Migration Ministry prior to the launch of its programs.

    Security systems a hallmark of new EU camps

    Centaur and Hyperion are hallmarks of Greece’s newest migrant facilities, also known as Closed Controlled Access Centres (CCACs), which began opening in the eastern Aegean in 2021 with funding and supervision from the European Commission (EC). Greek authorities have lauded the surveillance apparatus at the revamped facilities as a silver-bullet solution to the problems that plagued previous makeshift migrant camps in Greece.

    The Centaur system allows authorities to monitor virtually every inch of the camps’ outdoor areas – and even some indoor spaces – from local command and control centres on the islands, and from a centralised control room in Athens, which Greece’s former migration minister Notis Mitarachi unveiled with much fanfare in September 2021.

    “We’re not monitoring people. We’re trying to prevent something bad from happening,” Anastasios Salis, the migration ministry’s director general of ICT and one of the self-described architects of the Centaur system, told me when I visited the ministry’s centralised control room in Athens in December 2021. “It’s not a prison, okay? It’s something different.”

    Critics have described the new camps as “prison-like” and a “dystopian nightmare”.

    Behind closed doors, the systems have also come under scrutiny by some EU authorities, including its Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA), which expressed concerns following a visit to one of the camps on Samos Island in May 2022.

    In subsequent informal input on Greece’s refugee camp security measures, the FRA said it was “concerned about the necessity and proportionality of some of the measures and their possible impact on fundamental rights of residents” and recommended “less intrusive measures”.

    Asked during the control room tour in 2021 what is being done to ensure the operation of the Centaur system respects privacy laws and the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), Salis responded: “GDPR? I don’t see any personal data recorded.”

    ‘Spectacular #experimentation’

    While other EU countries have experimented with myriad migration management and surveillance systems, Greece’s refugee camp deployments are unique.

    “What we see in Greece is spectacular experimentation of a variety of systems that we might not find in this condensed way in other national contexts,” said Caterina Rodelli, a policy analyst at the digital rights non-profit Access Now.

    She added: “Whereas in other European countries you might find surveillance of migrant people, asylum seekers … Greece has paved the way for having more dense testing environments” within refugee camps – particularly since the creation of its EU-funded and tech-riddled refugee camps.

    The #Samos facility, arguably the EU’s flagship camp, has been advertised as a model and visited by officials from the UK, the US and Morocco. Technology deployments at Greece’s borders have already been replicated in other European countries.

    When compared with other Mediterranean states, Greece has also received disproportionate funding from the EU for its border reinforcement projects.

    In a report published in July, the research outfit Statewatch compared commission funds to Greece between 2014 and 2020 and those projected to be paid between 2021 and 2027, finding that “the funding directed specifically towards borders has skyrocketed from almost €303m to more than €1bn – an increase of 248%”.

    Greece’s Centre for Security Studies, a research and consulting institution overseen by the Greek minister of citizen protection, for example, received €12.8m in EU funds to develop border technologies – the most of any organisation analysed in the report during an eight-year period that ended in 2022.

    Surveillance and security systems at Greek refugee camps are funded through the EU’s Covid recovery fund, known formally as the European Commission’s Recovery and Resilience Facility, as well as the Internal Security Fund.
    Early warnings

    At the heart of the Greek DPA probe are questions about whether Greece has a legal basis for the type of data processing understood to be required in the programs, and whether it followed procedures required under GDPR.

    This includes the need to conduct data protection impact assessments (DPIAs), which demonstrate compliance with the regulation as well as help identify and mitigate various risks associated with personal data processing – a procedure the GDPR stipulates must be carried out far in advance of certain systems being deployed.

    The need to conduct these assessments before technology deployments take place was underscored by the Greek DPA in a letter sent to the Greek migration ministry in March 2022 at the launch of its probe, in which it wrote that “in the case of procurement of surveillance and control systems” impact studies “should be carried out not only before their operation, but also before their procurement”.

    Official warnings for Greece to tread carefully with the use of surveillance in its camps came as early as June 2021 – months before the opening of the first EU-funded camp on Samos Island – when the FRA provided input on the use of surveillance equipment in Greek refugee camps, and the Centaur project specifically.

    In a document reviewed by Computer Weekly, the FRA wrote that the system would need to undergo “a thorough impact assessment” to check its compatibility with fundamental rights, including data protection and privacy safeguards. It also wrote that “the Greek authorities need to provide details on the equipment they are planning to use, its intended purpose and the legal basis for the automated processing of personal data, which to our understanding include sensitive biometric data”.
    A botched process?

    However, according to documents obtained through public record requests, the impact assessments related to the programs were only carried out months after the systems were deployed and operational, while the first assessments were not shared with the commission until late January 2022.

    Subsequent communications between EU and Greek authorities reveal, for the first time, glaring procedural omissions and clumsy efforts by Greek authorities to backpedal into compliance.

    For example, Greece’s initial assessments of the Centaur system covered the use of the CCTV cameras, but not the potentially more sensitive aspects of the project such as the use of motion analysis algorithms and drones, a commission representative wrote to Greek authorities in May 2022. The representative further underscored the importance of assessing “the impact of the whole project on data protection principles and fundamental rights”.

    The commission also informed the Greek authorities that some areas where cameras were understood to have been placed, such as common areas inside accommodation corridors, could be deemed as “sensitive”, and that Greece would need to assess if these deployments would interfere with data protection, privacy and other rights such as non-discrimination or child rights.

    It also requested more details on the personal data categories being processed – suggesting that relevant information on the categories and modalities of processing – such as whether the categories would be inferred by a human or an algorithm-based technology – had been excluded. At the time, Greek officials had reported that only “physical characteristics” would be collected but did not expand further.

    “No explanation is provided on why less intrusive measures cannot be implemented to prevent and detect criminal activities,” the commission wrote, reminding Greece that “all asylum seekers are considered vulnerable data subjects”, according to guidelines endorsed by the European Data Protection Board (EDPB).

    The FRA, in informal input provided after its visit to the Samos camp in May 2022, recommended basic safeguards Greece could take to ensure camp surveillance systems are in full compliance with GDPR. This included placing visible signs to inform camp residents and staff “about the operation of CCTV cameras before entering a monitored area”.

    No such signs were visible in the camp’s entry when Computer Weekly visited the Samos camp in early October this year, despite the presence of several cameras at the camp’s entry.

    Computer Weekly understands that, as of early October, procedural requirements such as impact assessments had not yet been finalised, and that the migration ministry would remain in consultation with the DPA until all the programs were fully GDPR-compliant.

    Responding to Computer Weekly’s questions about the findings of this story, a Greek migration ministry spokesperson said: “[The ministry] is already in open consultation with the Greek DPA for the ‘Centaur’ and ‘Hyperion’ programs since March 2022. The consultation has not yet been completed. Both of these programs have not been fully implemented as several secondary functions are still in the implementation phase while the primary functions (video surveillance through closed circuit television and drone, entry – exit through security turnstiles) of the programs are subject to continuous parameterisation and are in pilot application.

    “The ministry has justified to the Greek DPA as to the necessity of implementing the measure of installing and operating video surveillance systems in the hospitality structures citing the damage that the structures constantly suffer due to vandalism, resulting in substantial damage to state assets … and risking the health of vulnerable groups such as children and their companions.”

    The commission wrote to Computer Weekly that it “do[es] not comment on ongoing investigations carried out by independent data protection authorities” and did not respond to questions on the deployment of the systems.

    Previous reporting by the Greek investigative outlet Solomon has similarly identified potential violations, including that the camp programs were implemented without the Greek ministry of migration and asylum hiring a data protection officer as required under the GDPR.
    Lack of accountability and transparency?

    The commission has said it applies all relevant checks and controls but that it is ultimately up to Greece to ensure refugee camps and their systems are in line with European standards.

    Vavoula, the researcher who was involved in the Greek DPA complaint, said the EU has been “funding … these initiatives without proper oversight”.

    Saskia Bricmont, a Belgian politician and a Member of the European Parliament with the Greens/European Free Alliance, described unsuccessful efforts to obtain more information on the systems deployed at Greece’s camps and borders: “Neither the commission nor the Greek authorities are willing to share information and to be transparent about it. Why? Why do they hide things – or at least give the impression they do?”

    The European Ombudsman recently conducted a probe into how the commission ensures fundamental rights are being respected at Greece’s EU-funded camps. It also asked the commission to weigh in on the surveillance systems and whether it had conducted or reviewed the data protection and fundamental rights impact assessments.

    The commission initially reported that Greece had “completed” assessments “before the full deployment of the surveillance systems”. In a later submission in August, however, the commission changed its wording – writing instead that the Greek authorities have “drawn up” the assessments “before the full deployment” of the tools.

    The commission did not directly respond to Computer Weekly’s query asking it to clarify whether the Greek authorities have “completed” or merely “drawn up” DPIAs, and whether the commission’s understanding of the status of the DPIAs changed between the initial and final submissions to the European ombudsman.

    Eleftherios Chelioudakis, co-founder of the Greek digital rights organisation Homo Digitalis, rejected the suggestion that there are different benchmarks on deployment. “There is no legal distinction between full deployment of a system or partial deployment of a system,” he said. “In both cases, there are personal data processing operations taking place.”

    Chelioudakis added that the Greek DPA holds that even the mere transmission of footage (even if no data is recorded/stored) constitutes personal data processing, and that GDPR rules apply.
    Check… check… is this camera on?

    Greek officials, initially eager to show off the camps’ surveillance apparatus, have grown increasingly tight-lipped on the precise status of the systems.

    When visiting the ministry’s centralised control room at the end of 2021, Computer Weekly’s reporter was told by officials that three camps – on Samos, Kos and Leros islands – were already fully connected to the systems and that the ministry was working “on a very tight timeframe” to connect the more than 30 remaining refugee camps in Greece. During a rare press conference in September 2022, Greece’s then-migration minister, Notis Mitarachi, said Centaur was in use at the three refugee camps on Samos, Kos and Leros.

    In October 2022, Computer Weekly’s reporter was also granted access to the local control room on Samos Island, and confirmed that monitoring systems were set up and operational but not yet in use. A drone has since been deployed and is being used in the Samos camp, according to several eyewitnesses.

    Officials appear to have exercised more caution with Hyperion, the fingerprint entry-exit system. Computer Weekly understands the system is fully set up and functioning at several of the camps – officials proudly demonstrated its functions during the inauguration of the Kos camp – but has not been in use.

    While it’s not yet clear if the more advanced and controversial features of Centaur are in use – or if they ever will be – what is certain is that footage from the cameras installed on several islands is being fed to a centralised control room in Athens.

    In early October, Computer Weekly’s reporter tried to speak with asylum seekers outside the Samos camp, after officials abruptly announced the temporary suspension of journalist access to this and other EU-funded camps. Guards behind the barbed wire fence at the camp’s gate asked the reporter to move out of the sight of cameras – installed at the gate and the camp’s periphery – afraid they would receive a scolding call from the migration ministry in Athens.

    “If they see you in the cameras they will call and ask, ‘Why is there a journalist there?’ And we will have a problem,” one of the guards said. Lawyers and others who work with asylum seekers in the camp say they’ve had similar experiences.

    On several occasions, Computer Weekly’s reporter has asked the Greek authorities to provide proof or early indications that the systems are improving safety for camp residents, staff and local communities. All requests have been denied or ignored.

    Lawyers and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have also documented dozens of incidents that undermine Greek officials’ claims of increased safety in the tech-riddled camps.
    Unmet promises of increased security

    In September 2022, a peaceful protest by some 40 Samos camp residents who had received negative decisions on their asylum claims escalated into a riot. Staff evacuated the camp and police were called in and arrested several people.

    Lawyers representing those accused of instigating the brawl and throwing rocks at intervening police officers said they were struck by the absence of photographic or video evidence in the case, despite their clients’ request to use the footage to prove their innocence.

    “Even with all these systems, with all the surveillance, with all the cameras … there were no photographs or video, something to show that those arrested were guilty,” said Dimitris Choulis, a lawyer with the Human Rights Legal Project on Samos.

    Asked about the incident, the Samos camp director at the time explained that the system has blind spots and that the cameras do not cover all areas of the camp, a claim contrary to other official statements.

    Choulis’s organisation and the legal NGO I Have Rights have also collected testimonies from roughly a dozen individuals who claim they were victims of police brutality in the Samos CCAC beginning in July 2022.

    According to Nikos Phokas, a resident of Leros Island, which houses one of the EU-funded facilities, while the surveillance system has proven incapable of preventing harm on several occasions, the ability it gives officials in Athens to peer into the camps at any moment has shifted dynamics for camp residents, staff and the surrounding communities. “This is the worst thing about this camp – the terror the surveillance creates for people. Everyone watches their backs because of it.”

    He added the surveillance apparatus and the closed nature of the new camp on Leros has forced some camp employees to operate “under the radar” out of fear of being accused of engaging in any behaviour that may be deemed out-of-line by officials in Athens.

    For example, when clothes were needed following an influx of arrivals last summer, camp employees coordinated privately and drove their personal vehicles to retrieve items from local volunteers.

    “In the past, it was more flexible. But now there’s so much surveillance – Athens is looking directly at what’s happening here,” said Catharina Kahane, who headed the NGO ECHO100PLUS on Leros, but was forced to cut down on services because the closed nature of the camp, along with stricter regulations by the Greek migration ministry, made it nearly impossible for her NGO to provide services to asylum seekers.

    Camp staff in one of the island facilities organised a protest to denounce being subjected to the same monitoring and security checks as asylum seekers.

    Residents of the camps have mixed views on the surveillance. Heba*, a Syrian mother of three who lodged an asylum claim in Samos and was waiting out her application, in early October said the cameras and other security measures provided a sense of safety in the camp.

    “What we need more is water and food,” said Mohammed*, a Palestinian asylum seeker who got to Samos in the midst of a recent surge in arrivals that brought the camp’s population to nearly 200% capacity and has led to “inhumane and degrading conditions” for residents, according to NGOs. He was perplexed by the presence of high-tech equipment in a refugee camp that has nearly daily water cuts.

    https://www.computerweekly.com/feature/Greek-data-watchdog-to-rule-on-AI-systems-in-refugee-camps
    #camps_de_réfugiés #surveillance #AI #IA #intelligence_artificielle #Grèce #asile #migrations #réfugiés #camps_de_réfugiés #biométrie #algorithmes

  • With drones and thermal cameras, Greek officials monitor refugees

    Athens says a new surveillance system will boost security, but critics raise alarm over its implications for privacy.

    “Let’s go see something that looks really nice,” says Anastasios Salis, head of information and communications technology at the Greek Migration and Asylum Ministry in Athens, before entering an airtight room sealed behind two interlocking doors, accessible only with an ID card and fingerprint scan.

    Beyond these doors is the ministry’s newly-installed centralised surveillance room.

    The front wall is covered by a vast screen. More than a dozen rectangles and squares display footage from three refugee camps already connected to the system.

    Some show a basketball court in a refugee camp on the island of Samos. Another screen shows the playground and another the inside of one of the containers where people socialise.

    Overhead, lights suddenly flash red. A potential threat has been detected in one of the camps. This “threat” has been flagged by Centaur, a high-tech security system the Greek Migration Ministry is piloting and rolling out at all of the nearly 40 refugee camps in the country.

    Centaur includes cameras and motion sensors. It uses algorithms to automatically predict and flag threats such as the presence of guns, unauthorised vehicles, or unusual visits into restricted areas.

    The system subsequently alerts the appropriate authorities, such as the police, fire brigade, and private security working in the camps.

    From the control room, operators deploy camera-equipped drones and instruct officers stationed at the camp to rush to the location of the reported threat.

    Officers carry smartphones loaded with software that allows them to communicate with the control centre.

    Once they determine the nature and severity of the threat, the control room guides them on the ground to resolve the incident.

    Video footage and other data collected as part of the operation can then be stored under an “incident card” in the system.

    This particular incident is merely a simulation, presented to Al Jazeera during an exclusive tour and preview of the Centaur system.

    The aim of the programme, according to Greek officials, is to ensure the safety of those who live inside the camps and in surrounding communities.

    “We use technology to prevent violence, to prevent events like we had in Moria – the arson of the camp. Because safety is critical for everyone,” Greek Migration Minister Notis Mitarachi told Al Jazeera at the November inauguration of a new, EU-funded “closed-controlled” refugee camp on Kos island, one of the first facilities to be connected to the Centaur system.

    ‘Dystopian’ surveillance project

    Nearly 40 cameras are being installed in each camp, which can be operated from the control room.

    There will also be thermal cameras, drones, and other technology – including augmented reality glasses, which will be distributed to police and private security personnel.

    “This was not to monitor and invade the privacy of the people [in the camps],” said Salis, one of the architects of Centaur. “You’re not monitoring them. You’re trying to prevent bad things from happening.”

    Greek authorities headline this new surveillance as a form of security but civil society groups and European lawmakers have criticised the move.

    “This fits a broader trend of the EU pouring public money into dystopian and experimental surveillance projects, which treat human beings as lab rats,” Ella Jakubowska, policy and campaigns officer at European Digital Rights (EDRi), told Al Jazeera. “Money which could be used to help people is instead used to punish them, all while the surveillance industry makes vast profits selling false promises of magical technology that claims to fix complex structural issues.”

    Recent reporting, which revealed Centaur will be partly financed by the EU COVID Recovery fund, has led a group of European lawmakers to write to the European Commission with their concerns about its implementation.

    Homo Digitalis, a Greek digital rights advocacy group, and EDRi said they made several requests for information on what data protection assessments were carried out before the development and deployment of Centaur.

    Such analysis is required under the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). They have also asked what data will be collected and how long it will be held by authorities. Those requests, they said, have gone unanswered.

    The Greek Migration Ministry did not respond to Al Jazeera’s query on whether an impact assessment was completed, and on policies regarding data retention and the processing of data related to children.

    In Samos, mixed feelings

    Advocates in Samos told Al Jazeera they raised concerns about camp residents being adequately notified about the presence of these technologies.

    But Salis, at the control centre, said this has been achieved through “signs – a lot of signs”, in the camps.

    The system does not currently incorporate facial recognition technology, at least “not yet”, according to Leonidas Petavrakis, a digital software specialist with ESA Security Solutions S.A., one of the companies contracted for the Centaur project.

    The potential use of facial recognition in this context is “a big concern”, said Konstantinos Kakavoulis of Homo Digitalis.

    Facial recognition systems often misidentify people of colour and can lead to wrongful arrests and convictions, according to studies. Human rights organisations globally have called for their use to be limited or banned.

    An EU proposal on regulating artificial intelligence, unveiled by the European Commission in April, does not go far enough to prevent the misuse of AI systems, critics claim.

    For some of those living under the glare of this EU-funded surveillance system, the feeling is mixed.

    Mohammed, a 25-year-old refugee from Palestine living in the new Samos camp, said that he did not always mind the cameras as he thought they might prevent fights, which broke out frequently at the former Samos camp.

    “Sometimes it’s [a] good feeling because it makes you feel safe, sometimes not,” he said but added that the sense of security came at a price.

    “There’s not a lot of difference between this camp and a prison.”

    https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2021/12/24/greece-pilots-high-tech-surveillance-system-in-refugee-camps
    #Grèce #réfugiés #asile #migrations #surveillance #complexe_militaro-industriel #drones #caméras_thérmiques #Samos #îles #camps_de_réfugiés #Centaur #algorythme #salle_de_contrôle #menace #technologie #EU_COVID_Recovery_fund #reconnaissance_faciale #intelligence_artificielle #AI #IA

    –—

    sur ces nouveaux camps de réfugiés fermés (et surveillés) dans les #îles grecques notamment :
    https://seenthis.net/messages/917173

    ping @etraces

    • Greece plans automated drones to spot people crossing border

      The Greek Migration Ministry announced it would use EU-funded drones with “Artificial Intelligence” to track people seeking refuge at the border. Promises that they will also improve search and rescue operations ring hollow.

      At the opening of the Thessaloniki International Trade Fair this September, Greek migration minister Notis Mitarakis – otherwise known for dismissing the ongoing evidence of Greek border guards’ brutal and illegal pushbacks of asylum seekers as “fake news” – made national headlines when he introduced his ministry’s latest project: €3.7m funding for drones with “innovative algorithms” that can “automatically identify defined targets of interest” at the Greek border.

      What did he mean? In a demo video, two men – one in sunglasses and a red shirt, another blurred – walk next to a line drawn through a field, with boxes marking them as “person”. As the guy in sunglasses walks closer towards the line, he gets labeled as “person of interest”. He starts running, jumps over the line, runs, lies down on a bench, disappearing from view. When he gets up, the box keeps tracking him.

      EU funding for Greek security projects

      “I actually recognize people from my department in this video”, one IT researcher told us, chuckling, at the Greek Ministry for Migration’s stall at the Thessaloniki Trade Fair on 13 September.

      His department – the Information Technologies Institute at the Center for Research and Technology Hellas (CERTH) – is in a quiet building in the outskirts of Thessaloniki. Here, researchers work on 27 different projects, mostly funded by the European Commission.

      The first time CERTH got funding for a security project was in 2017, when the European Union’s research and innovation program Horizon 2020 paid them to coordinate “ROBORDER”, an €8m project which aimed to develop and pilot “a fully autonomous border surveillance system” where, researchers said, robots will be able to identify humans and independently decide if they represent a threat. These days, the CERTH researcher says, there is a lot of interest from European institutions for funding “security projects”.

      REACTION

      Now, REACTION, or “Real-Time Artificial Intelligence for Border Surveillance” will also be CERTH-coordinated and funded by the European Commission’s Migration and Home Affairs Fund. It is set to start in November 2022, and run for 36 months.

      Computer scientist Stathes Hadjiefthymiades, who is part of the REACTION team, said they want to combine the research from ROBORDER and “AIDERS” – another EU-funded project aimed at processing data from drones, sensors and cameras to “improve emergency responses” in case of a fire, flood or shipwreck. The aim, he says, is to bring the technologies – “or goodies”, as he calls them – into the hands of the police, who want drones (as well as thermal sensors, motion detectors and cameras already installed at the Greek border) to alert them of border crossings.

      Once alerted, law enforcement will “not necessarily” stop people from crossing into Greece, Mr Hadjiefthymiades said. They could also be arrested or brought to camps and be instructed on how to apply for asylum. He added that pushbacks, which Amnesty International describes as “Greece’s de facto border policy”, are “in the news” but he does not believe that Greek border guards are pushing boats of asylum seekers back to Turkey.

      “Innovative algorithms”

      In his speech at the Thessaloniki Trade Fair, migration minister Mr Mitarakis said REACTION’s “use of artificial intelligence” will allow drones to identify and monitor “targets of interest”. However, one young man from the research consortium told us that “[the Migration Ministry] do not really know anything about what we are doing”, because they are “in a different field” and are “end users”.

      At the Thessaloniki Trade Fair, three drones were on display at the Greek Migration Ministry’s stall. Two were from the Chinese commercial drone maker DJI. The third was wrapped in wires and was, a presenter explained, trained to do what Mr Mitarakis said: scan an area, and, if it spots something “more interesting”, like a person crossing a border, independently change its course to track this person. However, the presenter told us, it is the only drone they have that can do this, because “on-board processing” is very expensive and requires a lot of energy.

      Mr Hadjiefthymiades confirmed that they were “dealing with reduced-size drones with limited on-board power. We are struggling to do on-board intelligence with off-the-shelf drones.”

      In the brochure for REACTION, the Greek migration ministry says that one of the project’s aims is “to use the funding to buy equipment needed for the border project.”

      Search and Rescue

      After police are alerted about a person or vehicle crossing the Greek border, “they will go see what is happening”, the young man from the research consortium told us. A woman, overhearing this, said angrily, “I will tell you what they do, they will either come with guns to shoot, or they will beat them”. Later, the young man admitted, “For me, the one thing is, I don’t know exactly what the police will do to the migrants after we alert them.” He grimaced. “But what can I do,” he said.

      When asked about REACTION’s claim that it will be used for “search and rescue”, the young man said he believed that people at the “Multimedia Knowledge Lab” at CERTH are training an algorithm to spot if someone is injured at the border. But Yiannis Kompatsiaris, a senior researcher there, told us that his lab is not currently training such an algorithm.

      In recent years, the Greek Coast Guard, like other European authorities, was repeatedly accused of delaying rescue operations. Earlier this month, Deutsche Welle published a report which showed that Greek authorities left a group of 38 asylum-seekers stranded on an islet on the Evros river, which marks most of the border between Greece and Turkey, despite a nearby pylon with heat sensors and cameras, which should have been able to immediately locate the group.

      Since 2017, open-source researcher Phevos Simeonidis tracks local and EU-funded border surveillance projects in Greece. So far, he says, “this ever-increasing apparatus always seems to fall short of assisting search and rescue, and also evidently turns a blind eye when footage or data could help individuals substantiate claims that they have been victims of human rights violations.”

      https://algorithmwatch.org/en/greece-plans-automated-drones

      #AI #IA #intelligence_artificielle #Real-Time_Artificial_Intelligence_for_Border_Surveillance #REACTION #ROBORDER #AIDERS #CERTH

  • Des maux et des remèdes, une histoire de pharmaciens le Devoir - Jean-François Nadeau - 21 avril 2018
    https://www.ledevoir.com/lire/525797/une-histoire-des-pharmaciens-des-remedes-de-grands-meres-a-l-apothicaire

    Lorsque le chirurgien Michel Sarrazin procède, au printemps de 1700, à l’ablation à froid du sein cancéreux d’une religieuse montréalaise, la malheureuse risque d’y passer. Soeur Marie Barbier va pourtant survivre 39 ans à cette opération, première du genre en Amérique. Pour éviter l’infection de sa plaie, on utilisera l’« #onguent divin », alors très populaire, explique en entrevue Gilles Barbeau, ancien doyen de la Faculté de pharmacie de l’Université Laval, qui vient de faire paraître Curieuses histoires d’apothicaires.

    Cet « onguent divin », les religieuses souhaitent l’utiliser en toutes circonstances. Il s’agit en fait d’un mélange de mine de plomb rouge, d’huile d’olive et de cire jaune. « Les métaux comme le plomb ou le cuivre ont une certaine propriété antiseptique », précise le professeur émérite.

    L’« onguent divin » s’inspire d’un manuel de la bibliothèque des Jésuites intitulé Remèdes universels pour les pauvres gens. Le pharmacien réservera longtemps les produits locaux aux gens de peu de moyens. Ceux qui le peuvent s’offrent des remèdes venus de loin, forcément meilleurs puisqu’on les paye plus cher…

    Peu de médicaments en vente libre sont encore tirés directement de plantes. Mais c’est bien la nature, explique #Gilles_Barbeau, qui a inspiré plusieurs médicaments. « Se soigner par les plantes, chercher à se soulager et à guérir des blessures fut non seulement un geste naturel des premiers êtres humains, mais une activité presque instinctive. » La #centaurée et la #rose_trémière étaient déjà utilisées il y a 40 000 ans pour leurs propriétés. L’#ail, l’#aloès, les graines de #pavot, l’#aubépine, la #camomille, la #mandragore, pour ne nommer qu’eux, servent aussi. « Les Nord-Américains ont pris l’habitude de prendre tout ça en pilules, alors que les effets favorables de la plante sont sous cette forme à peu près nuls », dit M. Barbeau.

    Le vieux métier
    Depuis les profondeurs du temps existe ce métier qui consiste à préparer des #médicaments, auquel nous identifions aujourd’hui le #pharmacien. « L’histoire des pharmaciens est obscurcie par la place qu’a prise l’histoire de la médecine », regrette Gilles Barbeau.

    L’apothicaire est l’ancêtre du pharmacien. Il se trouve à cette jonction mal éclairée où se rencontrent le botaniste, l’alchimiste, l’épicier, le chimiste et le charlatan. Au Québec, le mot « #apothicaire », présent aussi en Angleterre, reste accolé à la pharmacie jusqu’au début du XXe siècle.
     
    Des plantes
    Gilles Barbeau se souvient d’une journée passée à marcher avec son grand-père. L’homme, né en 1875, amenait son petit-fils près de la rivière cueillir de la #savoyane, une plante qu’il utilisait pour contrer les ulcères de bouche. « Ma grand-mère ramassait aussi des #plantes_médicinales. Ce fut mon premier contact, sans le savoir, avec la #botanique médicale. » Parmi les plantes dont Barbeau parle pour traiter de l’histoire des pharmaciens, on trouve l’#achillée_millefeuille, très commune dans les campagnes québécoises, utilisée en infusion pour ses vertus gastriques.

    L’histoire a gardé dans ses replis des savoirs anciens que Gilles Barbeau révèle au hasard de sa volonté première, qui est de faire connaître l’histoire de pharmaciens, des savants à qui nous devons parfois beaucoup.

    Vin et cocaïne
    Au nombre des historiettes passionnantes que narre le professeur, on trouve celle d’Angelo #Mariani, médecin d’origine corse. Mariani développe un vin fait à base de coca. « Ce vin va être très populaire pour soigner les acteurs et les actrices. Zola, Massenet, même le pape Léon XIII, vont aussi chanter la gloire du vin Mariani. Aux États-Unis, plusieurs caisses de vin Mariani sont importées. Un pharmacien va les distiller pour produire un sirop. Et c’est avec de l’eau et ce sirop qu’on va produire les premières bouteilles de Coca-Cola. »

    Que doit-on à Louis Hébert, premier apothicaire sur les rives du Saint-Laurent ? « Il va envoyer une quarantaine de plantes nouvelles en France, sans doute grâce aux #Amérindiens. » Dans les biographies édifiantes de cet apothicaire, on retiendra souvent qu’il suggérait de manger une pomme par jour. Pas de pommes pourtant en Nouvelle-France… La confusion viendrait de sa découverte d’une plante surnommée « #pomme_de_mai », déjà connue chez les #Hurons. Le frère botaniste Marie-Victorin la nommera Podophyllumn peltatum. Cette plante possède des propriétés purgatives puissantes. C’est un de ses dérivés qui est utilisé dans les célèbres pilules Carter’s pour le foie, commercialisées jusqu’en 1992. Au XIXe siècle, observe Gilles Barbeau, cette plante se trouve à la base de presque tous les médicaments censés traiter les maladies inflammatoires. Les observations d’un pharmacien britannique, Robert Bentley, vont montrer qu’une résine fabriquée à partir de cette plante possède un effet favorable au traitement des #tumeurs cutanées. « Et cela a donné un #anticancéreux puissant, toujours utilisé pour les traitements du cancer du sein », raconte M. Barbeau.

    On trouve de tout chez les pharmaciens, mais par forcément des amis. Dans la Grèce antique, #pharmakon veut d’ailleurs tout aussi bien dire poison que remède. Ces commerces sont souvent des lieux où le marchand est vu comme un menteur, un voleur, un empoisonneur, un malhonnête, un charlatan.

    Mauvaise humeur
    La théorie antique dite des #humeurs va longtemps dominer les usages de la pharmacie. On trouve une formidable illustration de ces théories fantaisistes dans Le malade imaginaire de Molière, où un « clystère insinuatif, préparatif, et rémollient » est d’entrée de jeu présenté comme une nécessité « pour amollir, humecter, et rafraîchir les entrailles de Monsieur »… En fonction d’un principe d’équilibre des liquides du corps, tous les maux sont à soigner à partir de simagrées, de saignées ou de purgatifs injectés dans le corps par un instrument appelé clystère.

    Encore au XIXe siècle, l’un des inventeurs du cinéma, #Auguste_Lumière, trouve dans ses usines chimiques des #hyposulfites qui, croit-il, permettent de dissoudre les « floculations », des cellules mortes qui en viennent à se précipiter dans le système, ce qui selon lui serait à la base de tous les ennuis de santé. On nage encore dans la théorie des humeurs.

    L’irrationnel s’avale bien. « Au XIXe siècle, en médecine populaire, le traitement de maladies comme la #teigne s’envisage avec un sirop fait d’écorces de #tremble qu’on prendra soin de couper à la pleine lune », souligne M. Barbeau, le concours des astres étant apparemment aussi important que celui des dieux sur l’effet des médicaments…

    Ainsi le développement de la pharmacie a-t-il longtemps donné la main à une science de l’à-peu-près dont la puissance tenait beaucoup à des effets de langage. Des esprits sensibles à la rigueur de l’analyse vont lui imposer une autre direction. La maladie, selon les enseignements de #Paracelse, est éventuellement envisagée comme un phénomène biochimique.

    Dans son #histoire des pharmaciens, Gilles Barbeau estime tout particulièrement la découverte faite par Friedrich Sertüner, un jeune stagiaire. « C’est lui qui a pour ainsi dire découvert la #morphine. C’est universel aujourd’hui. Elle permet d’aller plus doucement vers la mort », dit-il. De toutes les découvertes faites par le passé, la morphine a encore beaucoup d’avenir, croit M. Barbeau.

    #herboristerie