New technology from Microsoft will predict crimes before they happen

You’ve seen the movie “Minority Report” right? future predictions of crimes and stuff, well Microsoft is up to something similar to that, an advanced technology which could predict events before the even happen, the future!, did i just hear myself say that? yep, you and i did.

The tech company is currently working on an application so advanced it can predict future events such as which inmates will return to jail within six months of their release based on historical data and stop inmates from becoming recurring offenders. Well so Microsoft Senior Program manager says (Didn’t seem as though he was joking).

It’s all about software that has the ability to predict the future
Jeff King
Microsoft Senior Program Manager
He made this statement in a webcast with police departments earlier this year that has virtually gone unnoticed.

The program, is still in early stages of development and the inmate population data used in the model was fabricated to provide a “proof of concept” also an algorithm will be used analyze specific data of each inmate, such as their crimes or their behavior while imprisoned.

King explained in the webcast that the program, which plugs standard inmate data into a complex algorithm, works with up to 91% accuracy based on historic data. “Does the offender have a gang affiliation? Are they part of a rehab program? How many violations do they have in jail? How many hours in administrative segregation?”.

In the past Microsoft has only been able to predict a gamers next move, in games like Halo on its X-Box console, the software can predict the users next move based on how they have reacted previously in similar situations.

Although this technology has its advantages, some civil rights groups believe this will create categorical suspicion on certain neighborhoods or people who share a set of characteristics, as Sociologist Gary Marx called it the “tyranny of the algorithm”. Marx believes this technology will make police to rely on predictions rather gather accurate human intelligence.

Over time, it could present a fallacy of confusing data with knowledge
Gary T. Marx
Professor Emeritus at MIT

Jay Stanley, a Senior policy analyst at the American Civil Liberties Union has asked regarding what will be done with the algorithm’s results: would the person get more social services, or would they get more surveillance and harsher prison sentences.

Across the U.S., major cities are already using data-heavy predictive software to help predict future crimes. In Chicago, the city has listed 400 residents on a ‘heat list‘ of ‘potential victims and subjects with the greatest propensity for violence,’ based on ‘certain actions and associations within an individual’s environment. After a name is added to the list, Police officers will knock on their doors with the message “we are watching you, and if you slip we will come down on you extra hard”, this is all part of the program.

My fear is that these programs are creating an environment where police can show up at anyone’s door at any time for any reason
Hanni Fakhoury
Staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation

The reliability of a program as such remains questionable. Since they analyze and predict the actions of known criminals, how then can they predict crimes of one who hasn’t been convicted or are affiliated with one criminal organization or the other, how possible is that? Still concerned about how the Jury would handle such….”Guilty for the crime yet to be committed”!!!, and there goes the sound of the gavel.

Microsoft Corporation, founded by Paul Allen and Bill Gates on April 4th 1975, is an American multinational technology company headquartered in Redmond, Washington, that develops, manufactures, licenses, supports and sells computer software, consumer electronics, personal computers and services. It is the world’s largest software maker by revenue, and one of the world’s most valuable companies.

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