Keith Allen Bledsoe, the sixth teenage homicide victim in Lexington, Kentucky, this year, died as the other five had: by gunshot. On June 26, Lexington police found the 17-year-old Bledsoe's body in the streets of Harris Court, a cul-de-sac near I-64. If confrontation or argument had preceded Bledsoe's murder, none of the neighbors reported hearing it to police. If they heard gunshots, seemingly no one peered outside to investigate them. Officers reported no suspects or relevant witnesses, only shell casings and the gunshot wound to Bledsoe's head.
BEIJING – Chinese authorities have begun deploying a new surveillance tool: "gait recognition" software that uses people's body shapes and how they walk to identify them, even when their faces are hidden from cameras. Already used by police on the streets of Beijing and Shanghai, "gait recognition" is part of a push across China to develop artificial-intelligence and data-driven surveillance that is raising concern about how far the technology will go. Huang Yongzhen, the CEO of Watrix, said that its system can identify people from up to 50 meters (165 feet) away, even with their back turned or their face covered. Such a capability can fill a gap in what is offered by facial recognition, which needs close-up, high-resolution images of a person's face in order to work. "You don't need people's cooperation for us to be able to recognize their identity," Huang said in an interview in his Beijing office.
History has time and again taught us that, science fiction is only a fantasy until science makes it a reality. In the 1940s Isaac Asimov, a prolific science fiction writer wrote about a future where robots are a part of the human world. Similarly, in a sci-fi film, Robocop made more than 30 years ago, a robot is built-up in order to solve an unprecedented crime problem in dystopian crime-ridden Detroit. Today science fiction has become a reality. Police in different parts of the world are using robots for law enforcement and first, ever robotic police officers have become deployed across China, Dubai and Hyderabad in India.
Advances in artificial intelligence have come along in leaps and bounds in recent years, prompting police in Fukuoka and Kyoto to look into ways of using the technology to tackle organized crime. These groups are so violent they've even been known to lob hand grenades -- dubbed "pineapples" in yakuza slang -- at each other. The Kudo-kai has been particularly virulent in resisting police crackdowns and retaliating against civilians who don't toe the line. In 1998, gang members reportedly killed the former head of a local fishermen's association after he refused to let Kudo-kai get a cut of the harbor business. Experimenting with new ways of tackling organized crime, police authorities in Fukuoka are trying to create a yakuza attack prediction system based on artificial intelligence.
The European Union has revealed plans to harness artificial intelligence (AI) at the border to weed out suspicious travelers based on their gestures. You might attempt to'act casual' at the border if you are carrying more than your allowance for duty-free, or far more seriously, are attempting to smuggle illegal contraband across country lines, but the pilot AI, dubbed iBorderCtrl, will detect the little gestures we cannot but help to make when we are lying and under pressure. The project, which will be trialed for a period of six months, has been made possible through an EU contribution of roughly €4.5 million. Across border control in Hungary, Latvia, and Greece, the AI, known as an "intelligent control system," will "deliver more efficient and secure land border crossings to facilitate the work of border guards in spotting illegal immigrants, and so contribute to the prevention of crime and terrorism," according to the EU. A webcam will then be used to answer questions issued by a "computer-animated border guard," that will ask questions in order to either elicit the truth -- or lies.
Technological tools aiming to equalise sentencing and policing decisions are having the opposite effect. Just ask the 16-year-old kid stopped and searched 23 times in 10 months. Ensuring democracy in data, and technological governance is urgent, writes Georgia Reid. Technology will leave our democracy threadbare. In an era which gives primacy to Big Data, with Australian politicians touting data as a national resource, we should be sceptical of the democracy of technology.
Authorities in Dallas are pursuing the use of drones to assist in their duties to locate suspects and access areas that are unreachable by helicopters. Paul Stokes, Dallas assistant police chief, outlined the department's planned use of the drones during a recent city council briefing, saying the technology would allow officers to make sure a building is clear before entering, assist in fires and large protests and help identify suspects, the Dallas Morning News reported on Monday. According to FOX 4, it seems as council members approved of the idea, with Councilwoman Sandy Greyson calling drones "such cool technology." "I can see 100 different uses," she told the station. Drone use in law enforcement has been a privacy concern raised by the community, and something Stokes was quick to ensure would not be compromised.
But can computer algorithms really help reduce crime? Imagine a gang of bank robbers arriving at their next heist, only to find an armed response unit already waiting on the corner. Or picture walking down a dark alley and feeling afraid, then seeing the reassuring blue lights of a police car sent to watch over you. Now imagine if all of this became possible thanks to mathematics. Ever since the Philip K Dick novel The Minority Report, which was later turned into a Tom Cruise blockbuster, was published in the 1950s, futurists and philosophers have grappled with the concept of "pre crime".
Amazon's facial recognition technology, Rekognition, continues to cause controversy. In documents recently obtained by BuzzFeed News, we now have a behind-the-scenes look at how Orlando police have been using the technology. After the city let the original pilot program expire after public outcry, Orlando started a second pilot program with an "increased" number of face-scanning cameras. Amazon's Rekognition is described broadly as a visual analysis tool. But, deployed by law enforcement, it can scan faces caught on camera and match them against faces in criminal databases.