UK police are touting artificial intelligence as a solution to the problems of modern law enforcement, reassuring naysayers that the use of “pre-crime” algorithms will be restricted to offering “counseling” to likely offenders.
Suggesting that budget cuts have rendered mere human police incapable of doing their jobs without cybernetic help, project lead Iain Donnelly claims working with an AI system will allow the force to do more with less. He insists that the National Data Analytics Solution, as it’s called, will target only those individuals already known to have criminal tendencies, sniffing out likely offenders to divert them with therapeutic “interventions,” including individuals who are stopped and searched but never arrested or charged.
Donnelly claims the program is not designed to “pre-emptively arrest” anyone, but to provide “support from local health or social workers,” giving the example of an individual with a history of mental health problems being flagged as a likely violent offender, then contacted by social services. Given that a violent mental case would almost certainly react negatively to being contacted out of nowhere by a mysterious social worker – and that a history of mental health problems is not in itself criminal – Donnelly was wise to end his example there.
“Interventions” will be offered only to potential offenders, but the NDAS claims to be able to pick their victims as well. It combines statistics from multiple agencies with AI machine learning to assess an individual’s risk of committing or being victimized by gun or knife crime, or “falling victim to modern slavery,” according to documents obtained by the New Scientist.
The NDAS isolated almost 1,400 “indicators” of future criminality in a population sample of five million, analyzing more than a terabyte’s worth of data from local and national police databases, and zeroed in on 30 particularly effective markers, including the number of crimes committed by people in one’s social group, the number of crimes committed “with the help of others,” and an individual’s age at first offense. This data was then used to predict when an individual already known to the police was planning to re-offend,