German police are considering using crime prediction software
The pace of technological advancement is quickening to the point where the gap between science fiction and reality is being greatly reduced. Philip K. Dick explored the concept of pre-crime in his short story “The Minority Report” in 1956, but it wasn’t until Steven Spielberg offered it on the big screen as Minority Report in 2002 that the audience got a true look at a potential day-to-day existence under corporate and government data management and control.
As if Germany doesn’t have a sordid enough history of implementing an omnipresent secret police, apparently they are prepared to give it a modern-day upgrade via crime predicting software that is directly based on Minority Report.
The system is called Precobs, just a slight variant of the Precogs from formerly what was known as science fiction. The “Pre-Crime Observation System” will analyze “data of the location, time and other details of past crimes such as home break-ins. When a new incident is reported, the software analyses the data to look for a pattern that will point to a future target.”
Just to give it a further demonic twist, they are testing the system in Munich and Nuremberg, where officials say the results are “promising.”
But Germany can’t lay claim to inventing this type of technology – it’s already being used in several areas of the United States.
Chicago’s “Heat List” is an index of approximately 400 people who have been identified by a computer algorithm as being future threats to commit violent crime. Without having actually committed a crime, some of those on the list have actually been visited by Chicago police warning them that they are being watched.
In California, a sociologist at the University of California, Riverside has been working with the Indio Police Department to offer a computer dragnet that can predict where burglaries are going to happen in the future. Prof. Robert Nash Parker has developed a “computer model that predicts, by census block group, where burglaries are likely to occur.” Notably, Indio only has a population of 75,000, indicating that no area is to be considered off the radar of the technocratic police state.
And in Arizona, mental health pre-crime systems are searching for people “near the breaking point.” The system can harvest everything from medical records to gun purchases to online posts. Citing the crimes of Jared Loughner and Elliot Rodger, these units are being given the green light with new legislation to involuntarily detain those who are flagged.
This is all being conducted amid a backdrop of pre-crime Internet systems that continuously scour and collect data for potentially incriminating patterns:
Researchers at the University of Virginia funded by the U.S. Army recently demonstrated that they can not only gather information from your personal Twitter account just like the NSA, but also aggregate and analyze that information with advanced predictive algorithms designed to determine what you’re going to do next. In this case, the researches focused specifically on predicting crime by individuals, as well as in crime “hot spots” around the country.
Here’s the kicker. The algorithms being used don’t just look for obvious keyword phrases associated with criminal activity like “I’m going to kill you” or “meet me later and we’ll give him a beat down,” but focus in on routine activities, geo-location, and aggregate historical information to calculate the chance of a particular individual being involved in a crime at some point in the future.
A research paper published in the scientific journal Decision Support Systems last month said the analysis of geo-tagged tweets can be useful in predicting 19 to 25 kinds of crimes, especially for offenses such as stalking, thefts and certain kinds of assault.
Gerber said even tweets that have no direct link to crimes may contain information about activities often associated with them.
“The computer algorithm learns the pattern and produces a prediction.”
The study was funded by the US Army, which Gerber said uses similar techniques to determine threats in places such as Iraq and Afghanistan. (source)
We clearly have entered into a Minority Report world where the dystopian science fiction of the past has been culled for use as a blueprint to control the populations of the future.