Will pre-crime policing truly prevent crime or fall into patterns of speculation and inaccuracy?

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A man contemplates and prepares to murder his wife after finding her in bed with another man. With scissors poised above his head, the man intends to kill the two lovers. An outburst of a “PreCrime” unit barges in, breaking down doors and walls to arrest the man on charges of attempted murder. The question is, how did the supposed “PreCrime” team know where to be and what was going to occur? Using sufficiently futuristic technology and harnessed psychic energies, crimes were predicted and nailed down so that before they could even be committed, the perpetrators would be apprehended.

This is a scene from the sci-fi movie Minority Report from 2002, starring Tom Cruise, and for its time, it was mind-bogglingly futuristic, with a concept that seemed so distant in the future that it appeared to be a mere fantasy.

While viewers in 2002 may have laughed at the ludicrous and near-impossible plotline, now, the ideas of fighting crime before it has even occurred are not too far from reality.

However, as convincing as Tom Cruise and Minority Report may be, psychic energies would not be the center of any pre-crime policing. Rather, it would hinge on big data, computer science, and facial recognition to discover patterns of crime and predict based on them.

An elaborate and varied team of drones, cameras, algorithms, and people will be used to better monitor and hopefully prevent crime. Because the program is still not without its own biases, it all still requires fine-tuning; however, from what has been done so far and who has collaborated with police departments across the states, this new form of policing looks promising.

Every part of pre-crime policing has layers, both technological and human-based. In one layer, independent drones would monitor specific areas, discerning from potential reports as to whether different claims are relevant or valid. In other words, drones would be used to investigate different alerts about telltale markers of crime, like gun-shots, and also send pictures and video of what they found back to police. To figure out these areas to monitor, programs like PredPol would use data to track trends of crime to discern where more is likely to occur. These algorithms would factor in the people who’ve previously been arrested and for what crimes and trends in tattoos that indicate gangs, among other things.

For many, the program brings new hope for safer neighborhoods, but conversely, for others, especially those with a criminal history, their lives just got much harder and more constricted.

Using a computer program to rate and add up total criminal activity, police will have a rap sheet of sorts for people which will mainly help police to better understand their respective areas and the people in them. But, it could also unjustly incriminate people. Based on your score of illicit behavior, one will be monitored either more loosely or more closely, which could potentially interfere with job prospects and other aspects.

However, at what cost will this all be done? Security privacy? Potential racial profiling? An increase in perverted police power? If the programming fails the police department with inaccurate results, what would their protocol be? How would they make up for any false invasions of privacy or injustices done to the public?

For many, the program brings new hope for safer neighborhoods, but conversely, for others, especially those with a criminal history, their lives just got much harder and more constricted.”

In reality, this program relies on statistics on whether events will occur rather than concrete proof that it will with 100% certainty occur. With pre-crime, there would be so many areas where policing could go wrong, and additionally, by relying so heavily on computers, detective work, written work, and everything in between would be eliminated, in favor of algorithms and predictions.

As terrifying as the idea may be, this new facet of policing would revolutionize the world as we know it but definitely at a cost. And as the precision and need for technology increases, so will the ability of hackers and the disability of people to do work independently from computers.

In the end, will we be ready to rise up to the challenge and threats that pre-crime policing brings forth?

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