WASHINGTON January 14 (RIA Novosti) - It seems like a scene from the sci-fi thriller Minority Report, but police in three US cities are already using or testing new technology for predicting crimes before they happen – and taking preemptive, concrete steps to prevent them, US media reported.
The crime prediction software, developed by Richard Berk, a criminology professor at the University of Pennsylvania, was designed for use by probation officers to calculate which recently released inmates are most likely to commit murder in the future.
“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?’” Berk told ABC News.
Traditionally parole officers use criminal records and their professional judgment to decide what level of supervision a parolee needs. Now however those decisions are being made in part based on the predictions from Berk’s “precognition” software in the cities where it is being used.
To create the software, researchers analyzed a collection of data of more than 60,000 crimes, including homicides, then created an algorithm to find the people behind the crimes who were more likely to commit murder when paroled or released on probation, according to a Wired Magazine report.
Berk said the program could correctly identify eight future murderers out of 100.
The crime predicting program is already being used in Baltimore and Philadelphia and police in Washington DC are testing the system as well for minor crimes and plan to expand its use to more serious crimes if they conclude it is successful.
In the future, Berk said the algorithm could also be used to help set bail amounts, decide sentences, and predict lesser crimes.