Monday, July 09, 2012

Letter Re "Can Machines Predict Where Crimes Are about to Happen," Sci. Am.

The Blue CRUSH system may have great potential, not only in predicting crimes, but perhaps in helping to solve crimes as well. However, in targeting what seems to be the low hanging fruit (professional criminals and organized crime are likely to introduce additional randomness to avoid being caught in the dragnet), the system may end up concentrating police power in areas where crime is likely to occur, creating a self-predicting positive-feedback loop of solved cases in low income or gang-ridden neighborhoods. And while everyone's intentions seem noble and the underlying algorithms objective, the system may eventually force the cops on the beat to re-jigger their honed intuitions with reinforced negative stereotypes and profiling.

Dov Greenbaum and Mark Gerstein

Unpublished letter in response to :
James Vlahos' "Can Machines Predict Where Crimes Are about to Happen,"
Scientific American, January 2012