Computers are predicting crimes for cops. What's next?
A small story popped up in the news this November
-- "A unique collaboration between a University of California,
Riverside sociologist and the Indio Police Department has produced a
computer model that predicts, by census block group, where burglaries
are likely to occur. ... The result is an 8 percent decline in thefts in
the first nine months of 2013." The Indio police chief called the
project the "wave of the future."
And by all appearances, it does appear to be on the menu for Federal law
enforcement. The National Security Agency and its digital dragnets
like PRISM --
one of the big Snowden leaks -- aren't just about immediate
surveillance of criminal activity. That's only a limited use of the
potential of a technology that creates profiles of a population, records
all their significant behavior,
communications and who their friends
are. A recent report from the FBI's Behavioral Threat Assessment Center (BTAC) on
pre-planned massacres like the one at Virginia Tech discusses the
benefits of "assessments of the risk of future violence while enabling
the development and implementation of dynamic enabling the development
and implementation of dynamic behavioral strategies to disrupt planned
attacks." In other words, stopping pre-crime.