The Reality of Pre-Crime Technology and Those Who Oppose It

  • Pre-crime has increasingly become more plausible as technology has developed. This Minority Report idea proposed by author Philip Dick over 60 years ago is becoming a reality.
  • Algorithms are already being implemented to detect credit card fraud and to determine the difference between legitimate and spam email.
  • The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is already using a program that can detect patterns in individuals’ mannerisms, sweating, and voice inflection to determine if a crime is about to occur.
  • Critics feel that the Minority Report technology is an invasion of privacy. It’s merely an attempt to make money off of people’s data and personal information.

You are probably familiar with the 2002 film Minority Report starring Tom Cruise. This science fiction action movie was based on a 1956 short story written by author Philip Dick.

It involved three human-like creatures called precogs that recognized crime before it even occurred. The authorities would then use artificial intelligence and advanced technology to locate the potential perpetrator in order to prevent them from committing a crime.

Well, according to Nimrod Kozlovski, senior adviser on internet law and cybersecurity at Herzog, Fox & Ne’eman law firm, “Minority Report is becoming a reality and much faster than we thought.”

The Realistic Possibility of Pre-Crime

Kozlovski also says, “Today, we’re actually using technology that can detect anomalies and can sense patterns of abnormal behavior, and we are able to profile people that are likely to perpetrate crime.”

This type of work is already being conducted at the credit card fraud level. Algorithms have been implemented that track the patterns of an individual’s travel and shopping in order to greatly reduce identity theft and credit cards being used illegally.

Email spam filters have also been improved over the past several years due to an improvement in technology. Being able to automatically detect the difference between a legitimate email and a fake one has eliminated scams and identity theft.

Future Attribute Screening Technology (FAST)

The biggest step forward toward pre-crime realization is with the research conducted by The U.S. Department of Homeland Security. According to Kozlovski, their Future Attribute Screening Technology (FAST) program is designed to recognize the ill-natured intents of individuals.

This technology can detect body mannerisms, perspiration, voice inflection, and eye abnormalities in order to determine if suspicious activity is about to occur. There are even smart cameras that use analytics to understand the relationship between a female and a male walking behind her as she returns to her dormitory.

Some believe Pre-Crime Violates Privacy

Not everyone is on board the growing realization of pre-crime technology. Many critics believe that the efforts of “Silicon Valley” should not entangle itself with law enforcement. Just because analytics and data-gathering work in regard to selling products or advertising, doesn’t mean it belongs in the hands of law enforcement.

Author and CEO of Teramark Technologies in Zolling, Germany, Yvonne Hofstetter says, “The question is why we do that to ourselves, use those programs. Do we want to become a society, that is fully monitored, where everybody gets a score?”

Hofstetter continues, “We do that because we want to make money. And the financial players, big technology giants, learned many years ago that you can make a lot of money with personal data and scoring of people…”