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Lady of the Land
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This is like something straight out of Asimov


Really, made me think of the Foundation series, even though I don't remember those books very well:

Cruz Cops Experiment With 'Predictive Policing'

What do you think? Is this the future of policing? And how cool that ideas like that were already part of novels.

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Hannah Steenbock
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Knight of Honor
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Re: This is like something straight out of Asimov


Fascinating. And very rational. After all, we use the same sort of algorithms to predict where other animals will move to and what behavior they'll engage in.

Also, as an engineer, I've got to give props to the guy who coded this all up. That had to be a NIGHTMARE to get working!

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Shepherd
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Re: This is like something straight out of Asimov


Hopefully it will actually help make things safer as well.
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Grand Master
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Re: This is like something straight out of Asimov


I foresee a lot of innocent people getting banged up for being in the wrong place at the wrong time...
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Re: This is like something straight out of Asimov


quote:

Flasheart2006 wrote:
I foresee a lot of innocent people getting banged up for being in the wrong place at the wrong time...



Not necessarily. Oh, this sort of thing COULD be misused -- but when you get right down to it, most technology can be misused. So long as the cops continue to recognize that this information is only a statistical projection, not "known" specific information, there should be no danger. All they should use it for is information on WHERE and WHEN to send cops over to keep their eyes open. If no crime occurs, no one in the area gets "banged up" just for being there.

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Grand Master
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Re: This is like something straight out of Asimov


quote:

So long as the cops continue to recognize that this information is only a statistical projection, not "known" specific information, there should be no danger.



That's exactly what I'm saying, and I'm afraid I just don't have your faith that that won't happen. I've said it before on this board (though I'm afraid I can't remember where--it wasn't long ago, anyway) and I'll say it again: I think getting technology to do our thinking for us is dangerous. It makes us lazy, and when we get lazy, we get sloppy; and when we get sloppy that's when mistakes get made. And I'm of the opinion--particularly on the matter of justice--that we can't really afford to make mistakes.

Sorry, but I fully expect that, sooner or later, some lazy local plod who can't be bothered to do his job right will draw down and open fire on somebody just because the "Computer said so."



I know it's an exageration, but it's funny precisely because there really are people like that out there. The police are no different.
9/20/2011, 8:11 am Link to this post Email Flasheart2006   PM Flasheart2006 Blog
 
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Re: This is like something straight out of Asimov


I was thinking of Minority Report as well, and we all know how that ended. >_> <_<

I don't really trust cops to begin with, hehe. :P

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Re: This is like something straight out of Asimov


quote:

Flasheart2006 wrote:
Sorry, but I fully expect that, sooner or later, some lazy local plod who can't be bothered to do his job right will draw down and open fire on somebody just because the "Computer said so."



*shrug* When you get right down to it, we trust people not to do this every day already. I mean, what's to keep a cop from pulling a gun on you and randomly shooting you down at the grocery store tomorrow? Nothing -- except that most cops won't do it, and most onlookers are basically decent and won't let that sort of behavior go on forever. So even without fancy computer programs, cops can lie, cheat, and kill without cause. Basically, there's no difference between your above fear and worrying that:

quote:

sooner or later, some lazy local plod who can't be bothered to do his job right will draw down and open fire on somebody just because the "Boss said so."



I'm certainly not saying misuse of such computer programs is impossible or not going to happen. I'm just saying that it's no more likely to happen in the future than it is now. As misuses of power and stupidity DO happen occasionally now, so I'm sure they will in the future.

But I refuse to handicap myself into not using technology, or not trusting people, just because the world is changing. Humans have always changed their world. When you get right down to it, though, computers, like all technology going waaaay back to the first intentionally-built fire, are just tools. We can use them morally or immorally -- and history suggests that over time, we'll do both. Just as we do today.

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Grand Master
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Re: This is like something straight out of Asimov


Christ, I wish I had your optimism! emoticon

Again, I think fundamentally we agree--as you say, technology is a tool and humanity's great strength is to adapt itself to its environment and to use tools as they become available. My concern is that we also become reliant on those tools, and as we become more reliant on those tools we forget the skills we had before. For example, if I fancy fish and chips for my dinner, I wander down the hill and hand over a fiver; I wouldn't have a clue about how to go about catching the fish and preparing it. Most people these days wouldn't (a rod's involved somewhere, and bait, but where do you go, what do you look for blah blah blah). And there are lots of examples like that: in a sense, technology has already made us 'stupid' in several ways, namely by allowing us to forget the skills we needed before the respective tool came along, because we didn't need those skills any more. I guess my worry is that technology has reached the stage where we're on the borderline of being allowed to forget the skill of using our brains

And as you say, right now there is nothing to stop an individual cop opening fire on a random civilian. Right now, however, if a cop does that he's a criminal, plain and simple; a few years down the line, when computer programmes such as this have become an integral part of policing, it won't just be the 'bad' cops doing it--it'll be the stupid ones as well, the ones who have forgotten how to think for themselves. Right now, a murdering cop has to lie to cover his tracks and would constantly have to look over his shoulder; in future he'll be able to say, "The computer told me to do it," and nobody would have reason to suspect otherwise.

Last edited by Flasheart2006, 9/20/2011, 6:35 pm
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Reythia Profile
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Knight of Honor
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Re: This is like something straight out of Asimov


quote:

Flasheart2006 wrote:
I guess my worry is that technology has reached the stage where we're on the borderline of being allowed to forget the skill of using our brains


Oh, we're already at that stage. Think about it. For most people, technology is a total black box -- and when they're forced to think about it, it scares them. As an engineer, it's both really obvious and rather frightening. The number of times I've heard "But what if computers get to the point where they'll be smart enough to take over the world!" is pretty good evidence of that. If they'd ever actually WRITTEN a computer code, they'd understand why that's just not going to happen. It's the fact that they don't understand the technology that makes it so frightening. So if you want to know why I don't worry overly much about this police thing, it's because I know that for most people, the time of not using their brains -- and, worse, distrusting those who do -- has already come. It's the present, not the future. (Still think I'm an optimist?)

And for the same reason I don't believe cops will go on murderous rampages because of a computer. Because I'm aware the computer programs NEVER hold together for too long without maintenance -- which means that behind the police program, there's going to be a team of computer scientists involved in coding everything up and fixing all the bugs. That leaves two ways for the computer to go "haywire":

1.) There's a bug. If the individual cops on the beat don't catch it, and the lawyers involved in the trial of an innocent victim/bystander don't catch it, then eventually, the programmers will. It might take a while, but given the ramifications, the problem should come to light quickly enough, and be stopped. Think about it: if there's an honest mistake, there are going to be innocents accused of crimes they didn't commit. Unless our entire judicial system is gone (ie: a country we no longer recognize the shape of), most will be demonstrated innocent (or unproven of) the crimes the computer blames them for. Once that happens a couple of times, it's clear that there's a bug and it's only so long before it gets fixed.

2.) There's not a bug, and someone is either altering the computer inputs/code to force a false outcome, or lying about that outcome when she tells the individual cops where to go and who to arrest. But this is the same potential problem we have now, and we know that it has mostly local effects that tend to be put down eventually. This is worrisome, but no more in the future than it is today.

In short, while "The computer told me to do it," may end up a good reason to interrogate and temporarily arrest someone, I don't really fear that it'll become a good reason to imprison someone. Or if it DOES become so, the computer will just be an excuse for the general evilness of the people designing and running the system (and evil needs no computer!).

I have no faith in the people USING the computer. I do have faith in the (collective) people DESIGNING the computer and its software. And I know that computers only do what you tell them to, no more.

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Lady of the Land
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Re: This is like something straight out of Asimov


Actually, "the computer told me to do it" is just a new variant of a very old excuse, one that Germans have been painfully living with for the last 70 years or so. The standard excuse for war crimes was "My captain (general, major, der Führer, whoever) ordered me to do it". I'm sure there are similar events in every country in this world.

Basically, I see no real difference. People have always looked for excuses not to use their mind. It's not the fault of the computer when people refuse to use their own brain. The big problem is that people are drilled NOT to use their brain in command hierachies - and that is still a human responsibility. So maybe we should take a close look at how the command system is set up in our police structures, if you're afraid that police may use that excuse.

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Hannah Steenbock
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Re: This is like something straight out of Asimov


Yeah, I think we're all saying the same thing, just approaching it from different ways.

Whereas you're saying, "It's just another excuse, things won't change," I'm saying, "It's YET another excuse that they can hide behind," which counts as a step backwards in my book.
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Re: This is like something straight out of Asimov


Part of the problem in working in a bureaucracy - as I have been for the past near-five years - is that sometimes there are no answers that are going to keep anyone happy. In the last two weeks, I've had to deal with a case where both parties in a dispute were screaming in my ear at least once a day, and I was trying to find a legislative happy ground between them. In the end, one said "I never want to hear from you again, I'm changing my phone number as soon as I finish this call."

Which made my job partially easier, because it meant she'd given up some of her rights, but I still didn't make the other guy happy because I still didn't give him what he wanted.

I figure as long as both people are at least a little bit unhappy, I'm probably doing my job. Or that's what my old boss used to say. :P

But seriously though... there are probably some sociopaths out there (either naturally, or through institutionalisation from working in the public sector) for whom these things are simple, and I think that's the kind of 'faceless' idea people have of public servants.

I used to hate the idea of writing meaningless, nonsense, bureaucratic-speak letters to people. And now that's what I do on a daily basis, why? Because the legislation says we have to. I hate it, but I do it, because I know people aren't going to read it. I'm much more inclined to play phone jockey to explain things.

Oops, I'm rambling on about my problems, haw haw.

Someone with ideas is dangerous in a system which doesn't promote free thinking. :P

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Dare I disturb the Universe?

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Re: This is like something straight out of Asimov


[sign in to see URL] is the "Like" button for that last line in your post.... emoticon

I too am part of the bureaucracy, so I understand a bit more how the great machine works. (or doesn't).

There are dirty cops and crooked public servants, however MOST are not. The public sector is a very frustrating place for someone with a vision/idea to move around in. Change comes very slow, but part of that is on purpose I think. That way the crooked cannot work their evil as easily. emoticon

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