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Software to be used to predict future crimes

In a turn more like a sci-fi movie than a policing method, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania has developed technology meant to decrease crime. The software was developed from an algorithm informed by more than 60,000 crimes, which revealed that there was a subset in the data that were more likely to commit murder when on parole or probation.

The program takes into account about two dozen variables, the most important of which are the type of crime and the age at which the crime was committed. The professor claims these are the most predictive pieces of data for the program, as a young person who commits a violent crime is more likely to reoffend, according to his data. However, this program then, would track the lives of these offenders throughout their lives, presenting a serious issue in terms of privacy.

Though there is supervision involved in the parole and probation system, some may feel that this program would be intrusive and beyond the current laws. Readers may recall the Steven Spielberg sci-fi movie 'Minority Report' in which psychics had visions of murders, and the police force was charged with arresting the culprit before the crime had even occurred. It appears, now, that this type of technology -- without psychics -- is not so far off.

Submitting to the parole and probation system can be invasive enough without being predicted to be a repeat offender by an algorithm. For people charged with or found guilty of crimes, the consequences are serious enough without the added issue of technology like this.

Source: The Mary Sue, "Minority Report precog-like software being tested in Baltimore and Philadelphia to predict crimes," Jill Pantozzi, Jan. 12, 2013

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