What could possibly go wrong?
The real Minority Report: U.S. police trial computer software that predicts who is most likely to commit a crime
Police in America are to use Minority Report style computer programmes to predict who will commit crimes before they happen.
The software collates a range of variables then uses an algorithm to work out who is at the highest chance of offending.
In some cases it may even be able to predict where, when and how the crime will be committed.
Should trials prove a success the software could be used to help set bail amounts and suggest sentencing recommendations too.
It will be used by law enforcement agencies in Washington DC but could be rolled out nationwide if a success.
Its implementation is likely to spark an outcry from privacy campaigners and civil rights groups, not least because of the strong resemblance to the 2002 sci-fi thriller ‘Minority Report’.
In the film Tom Cruise heads a ‘Precrime’ unit which uses genetically altered humans, known as ‘Pre Cogs’, who can see into the future to stop crimes before they take place.
Developed by Richard Berk, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, the software is already used in Baltimore and Philadelphia to predict which individuals on probation or parole are most likely to murder and to be murdered.
But now it is being taken one step further in Washington DC to look into the future.
‘When a person goes on probation or parole they are supervised by an officer. The question that officer has to answer is ‘what level of supervision do you provide?” said professor Berk.
‘It used to be that parole officers used the person’s criminal record, and their good judgment, to determine that level.
‘This research replaces those seat-of-the-pants calculations,’ he said.
The technology sifts through around two dozen variables, from criminal records to geographic location.
The type of crime, and more importantly, the age at which that crime was committed, were two of the most predictive variables.
From a dataset of 60,000 crimes including murder, the research team found a subset of people more likely to commit crime when on parole or bailed.
Compared to the standard murder rate in the US of 1 murderer in 100, they claim to be able to identify eight in 100.
‘People assume that if someone murdered then they will murder in the future,’ said professor Berk.
‘But what really matters is what that person did as a young individual. If they committed armed robbery at age 14 that’s a good predictor. If they committed the same crime at age 30, that doesn’t predict very much.’
Those who are identified by the software could be subject to tougher bail conditions, or closer supervision – something attacked by academics as tantamount to harassment.
Their argument is compounded by the fact that currently the software does not provide have any direct evidence that a crime will take place.
Professor Berk acknowledged the similarities to ‘Minority Report’, a parallel drawn by many of his students.
But he said: ‘We aren’t anywhere near being able to do that.’
By Daniel Bates
Last updated at 5:44 PM on 25th August 2010
Source: The Daily Mail
Then label the worst potential criminals from government point of view as terrorists …
… and lock them up forever …
“John McCain introduced a bill into the U.S. Senate which, if passed, would actually allow U.S. citizens to be arrested and detained indefinitely, all without Miranda rights or ever being charged with a crime.”
“Of course, that would be the same administration whose Homeland Security Secretary has classified veterans, retired law enforcement, Ron Paul [and Chuck Baldwin] supporters, and conservatives as ‘terrorists.’”
… or even better kill them immediately:
All problems solved!