This AI knows where and when crimes occur

Right now, we are busy solving crimes after they happen. But what if we could predict it before it happens?

In any case, this is the scenario created by MOVIES Minority Report, which was released in 2002. As a reminder, the film by Philip K. Dick., played by Tom Cruise, describes a dystopian world where an artificial intelligence can predict crimes in advance. Well now fiction becomes reality with the arrival of a new type of artificial intelligence that anticipates crime. The concept is not entirely new. But the latest news is that an AI expert has developed an algorithm that can predict where and when a crime will occur. 80 to 90% accuracy.

AI has been tested in 8 major US cities

The new algorithm was tested on some US states and the results are particularly encouraging. It was done by a team led by Professor Ishanu Chattopadhyay, University of Chicago. The researchers designed the AI ​​using Chicago crime data, between the years 2014 and 2016. They then divided the American city into several zones of approximately 300 meters in diameter.

Finally, the algorithm was able to anticipating the level of crime in each of these geographic areas within weeks of the analysis. The researchers then expanded the tests to seven other major US cities. These are Atlanta, Austin, Detroit, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Portland and San Francisco. The results were equally encouraging.

An AI that predicts crimes

What if AI leads to the arrest of innocent people?

However, the efficiency of an AI does not always equate to evolution. In fact, in this case, the convincing results did not convince many observers. On the contrary, many are concerned about the potential damage that may be caused to that machine.

“People are concerned that it is being used as a tool to put people in prison before they commit crimes. This will not happen because he does not have the ability to do it. »


For example, the police in Chicago have already tried an Artificial Intelligence in the same category a few years ago. Authorities are using the device to test identification of suspects and possible victims of the shooting. The results are particularly disappointing, as they are clearly discriminatory. 56% of black men in the city between the ages of 20 and 29 are on the list created by the algorithm.

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A political-social instrument to reduce the level of crime

Ishanu Chattopadhyay, lead author of the research published in Natural Human Behavior, would like to reassure the public about its creation. The latter is not meant for a police use. Better yet a political-social tool which should be used to predict and reduce crime levels in specific geographic areas.

“It simply predicts an event at a specific location. It doesn’t say who will do the event or the exact dynamics or mechanics of the events. It doesn’t work in the same way as the movie Minority Report . »

A police officer using AI to predict crimes

Risks of discrimination or racism?

He also admitted that it was taken precautions to avoid cases of racism or discrimination from the algorithm.

“My teammates and I have said a lot that we don’t want it to be used as a predictive political tool. We want policy optimization to be the primary use. We have to allow it, because it’s not it is enough to put a paper and have an algorithm. We want the mayor or administrators to use the generated model to run simulations and inform policy. »

In any case, we know very little about how this technology will be used in the real world. The tool is still far from the testing phase.

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