Image: Samantha Morton starred in Minority Report, playing a woman who had pre-cognitive abilities and could predict crimes before they happened.
The academics discussed the crime fighting implications of “machine learning”, which allows computers to learn for themselves and then solve problems just like a human.
This technique will have a major effect on transport, healthcare and education, potentially bringing massive benefits as well as putting millions of jobs at risk.
But in the hands of cops, AI has the potential to have a massive impact on society by allowing law enforcement to have an “overbearing or pervasive” presence.
“Cities already have begun to deploy AI technologies for public safety and security,” a team of academics wrote.
“By 2030, the typical North American city will rely heavily upon them.
“These include cameras for surveillance that can detect anomalies pointing to a possible crime, drones, and predictive policing applications.”
Machine learning and AI is already used to combat white collar crime such as fraud. It is also used to automatically scan social media to highlight people of risk of being radicalised by ISIS.
Yet the range of crimes which could be stopped by AI is likely to grow as the technology becomes more advanced.
Image: Drones could be fitted with cameras and AI tech which allows them to predict crimes before they occur. Image Credit: AP
The academics continued: “Law enforcement agencies are increasingly interested in trying to detect plans for disruptive events from social media, and also to monitor activity at large gatherings of people to analyse security.
“There is significant work on crowd simulations to determine how crowds can be controlled.
“At the same time, legitimate concerns have been raised about the potential for law enforcement agencies to overreach and use such tools to violate people’s privacy.”
In the film Minority Report, a group of psychics called “precogs” were able to predict crimes by reading people’s intentions and stopping them.
But real life AI will work differently by identifying trends in pre-existing crimes or learning the signs which show someone is about to commit an offence.
For instance, if cameras spot a person lingering down a dark alley, a computer could conclude a mugging is about to take place and scramble cops to stop the wannabe thief before he strikes.