By James W. Astrada
Over the course of the series, I have covered the rapid advancement in the realm of science and technology that could only be seen in Hollywood sci-fi films. There were many hints at the U.S. government military arm DARPA developing high tech “defense” monitoring systems that would help law enforcement keep an eye on the public. Although many of these concepts have been introduced by Orwell, Philip K. Dick, and many other science fiction writers, it seems that the beginning of bringing this idea into reality has begun.
Two American states have started to implement “precrime” technology only seen in the Minority Report. Maryland and Pennsylvania are utilizing “crime prediction software” to predict which freed prisoners are mostly likely to commit murder with constant supervision. Although the idea is to start with ex-cons, using the same technology on regular citizens is not that far-fetched. This program is intended to replace parole officers using computer algorithms to “decide” how dangerous the ex-prisoner will be. With this program already underway in both Philadelphia and Baltimore, Washington D.C. will sign on next to utilize the program.
Professor Richard Berk from the University of Pennsylvania developed this program and strongly believes that the futuristic program will help reduce murders and save lives. Other perks of the program include setting bail and decide future sentences of convicts and mostly likely future convicts based on algorithms:
“When a person goes on probation or parole they are supervised by an officer. The question that officer has to answer is ‘what level of supervision do you provide? This research replaces those seat-of-the-pants calculations. People assume that if someone murdered then they will murder in the future. “But what really matters is what that person did as a young individual. If they committed armed robbery at age 14 that’s a good predictor. If they committed the same crime at age 30, that doesn’t predict very much.”
Although Berk doesn’t directly state that this program can predict future crimes, the way technology is growing at a geometric rate; this does seem feasible in the short future. The only question now is will “human rights” and harassment be used as a complaint against this newly developed crime preventer.
If that development wasn’t enough to question the limited amount of privacy normal citizens have, police will soon acquire “rapid DNA analyzers” that have the ability to process one individual’s DNA in 90 minutes or less. Not only will it identify the targeted individual, the entire family will also be available to police for any information they might need. These machines are being distributed around the country and will soon be available to all local law enforcement. They are only the size of a laser printer and will be used in the field backed by IntegenX and NetBio who claim that this will “revolutionize the use of DNA” and will be used in routine investigations.
Despite the many examples of technology being utilized to monitor and supervise all citizens regardless of criminal activity or not, there poses a big problem. DNA scanning will be the final step in transforming society into a prison planet. If accepted all over the world, citizens will live in fear by making sure their thoughts are not causing alarm to any computer using algorithms to predict their future behavior. Crime will be reduced and perhaps violence may be curved significantly. When those in power finally “destroy crime,” who will be assigned to monitor them to make sure they continue to follow law? Following this path will create controversy, resistance, and disdain for law enforcement and the government. Most Hollywood movies following this criterion always lead to revolution with the main character paving the way for “freedom” (an increasing alien concept) seen in the Running Man, Total Recall, Minority Report, and the new Dredd. Although most movies are too idealistic promoting a happy ending, what kind of future can we expect with the introduction of this technology? Whatever the case may be, the beginning is always the toughest part to face.
Eric Bland. “Software Predicts Criminal Behavior.” ABC News (August 2010).
Harriet Arkell. “Minority Report has arrived: Maryland and Pennsylvania using computers to predict future crimes.” Daily Mail UK (January 2013).
J.D. Heyes. “Rapid DNA analyzers coming to every police station and TSA checkpoint in America.” Naturalnews.com (January 2013).
© Copyright 2013. James Astrada.
© 2012 Surveillance of the Mind Series.