VALCRI, an AI algorithm, processes criminal databases and other data sets, suggesting lines of inquiry to aid police, and may even be able to pre-empt crime.
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We’ve already seen how, in China, an image-recognition algorithm is aiding surveillance in real-time, and now UK police will be using similar algorithmic technology to assist criminal analysts.
The system, called VALCRI (Visual Analytics for sense making in CRiminal Intelligence analysis) is the result of an EU-wide research project fronted by Middlesex University, involving 18 organisations of various expertise from law firms to teams of scientists, and aims to herald the age of ‘intelligence-led policing’. VALCRI analyses anonimized criminal records, and pulls in other various data sets that offer insight into social and legal factors, in order to suggest likely lines of inquiry for detectives, a process that is classically highly labor-intensive for criminal analysts and subject to human error or biases. VALCRI is not intended to solve crimes, but offers data and suggestions of possible leads in a graphics-oriented approach across two large touchscreen consoles. The system features an AI algorithm that is capable of learning as more data is added, so that its ability to see patterns only grows more robust as data is added. As well as assisting ongoing investigations, VALCRI also claims to be able to pre-empt crimes by spotting developing patterns that may have historically led up to incidents of crime, and will also provide a vast dataset for criminal researchers that may be used to inform policy on crime prevention. A pilot project is underway in the UK with the West Midlands Police Force and in Brussels, whereby VALCRI has been fed with three years worth of local criminal data.
What ethical and legal frameworks would need to be put in place if we were to see the onset of ‘Minority Report’ pre-emptive crime intervention?