A Crystal Ball of Crime

Minority Report, the Tom Cruise mystery, crime film, was an entertaining interpretation of the Philip K. Dick short story, of the same name. It was all about fighting crime before it happened. Well, apparently, what was once science fiction, is becoming a reality.

The Chicago Police department has developed a computer algorithm that has the power to see into the future and pick out potential criminals in every day society. Apparently, this had been going on for the last three years, under the public’s noses. These unknowing people, who are marked by this program, get tagged and put under the watchful eye and surveillance of government agents. These same government agents even visit these potential criminals in hopes of curbing the crime, which is nice.

Much like in Minority Report, this method has been labeled pre-crime, and through some unknown set of factors and data, this computer program is supposed to be able to determine who is more likely to commit a heinous crime. This method, in theory, has the potential to stop a horrible offense. That’s all well and good, but there are still SO MANY questions. This futuristic technology seems too good to be true, and so far, outside of the program itself, it seems that no one knows how it works, how it picks the pre-criminal, and what information it’s using to figure out that a person would, at some point, commit a crime. Interestingly enough, if someone does get arrested before they do anything against the lawe, we have robot lawyers now, ready to defend and fight for the rights of the people violated by this computer’s questionable predictions.

It seems that the more technologically advanced society becomes, the more invasive it becomes. It can be easy to appreciate that this type of algorithm is possibly stopping someone from getting robbed, or hurt, or even killed. But as far as we can tell, no one has truly invented the ability to see into the future. This is all based on data that the person MIGHT commit a particular crime. As a result, intervention is put forward before anything bad can happen. But how does this computer even know if a crime would have ever been committed? Is this a way of making someone guilty before they’ve even done anything to be considered guilty? Are there bigger implications I’m not seeing here, like it’s an excuse to systematically prey on minorities and low income neighborhoods? Am I just refusing to see the bright side on all this, and that pre-crime could actually work and stop tragedy from striking?

If pre-crime works, and really does what it’s supposed to do, how would we ever know? How can we prove someone was going to do something if they never did it in the first place? All I know is that if this computer is so good at predicting pre-crime, this better mean that software that can see into the future, is forthcoming. I mean, I really want to see if I become that internet celebrity podcaster superstar, I always predicted I would be.

Source: http://www.activistpost.com/2016/05/police-now-using-pre-crime-algorithm-to-target-and-label-innocent-citizens-as-criminals.html

Francis Fernandez
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