The government of China is known to have been gathering personal data of its citizens to monitor and control suspects of crime or politically sensitive acts. But the new artificial intelligence technology that the country is now working on goes a step ahead to strengthen these capabilities of its police as well as government.
A number of tech companies in China are working to develop a technology that helps to predict and, therefore, prevent a crime even before it happens. This technology will make use of artificial intelligence and identify suspects even before a criminal act is committed. The technology is expected to be of great help to the Chinese police.
China’s vice-minister of science and technology, Lin Meng, said,
If we use our smart systems and smart facilities well, we can know beforehand . . . who might be a terrorist, who might do something bad
According to Li Meng, one of the most important use of Artificial Intelligence in the government sphere will be crime prediction.
Cloud Walk, a facial recognition company has been pursuing a technique that makes use of data about an individual’s movements and behavior to ascertain possibilities of their committing a crime. When the risk becomes high, the software will warn the police who will then intervene.
Financial Times quotes a company spokesperson saying,
The police are using a big-data rating system to rate highly suspicious groups of people based on where they go and what they do. Risks rise if the individual frequently visits transport hubs and goes to suspicious places like a knife store.
Artificial Intelligence will be a significant player in the new crime prediction technology in China as people from surveillance footage will be analyzed for facial recognition and gait for assessing their possibility of committing a crime. The technology will also make use of “crowd analysis” to identify “suspicious” behavioral patterns amidst crowds, for instance, to single out criminals from non-criminal passengers at train stations or other public areas. Moreover, the technology will also keep track of people with a “criminal history”.
A similar use of artificial intelligence was shown in the American science fiction film ‘Minority Report’ that released in the year 2002 in which a designated police department, “PreCrime” apprehended criminals based on advance knowledge provided by three psychics known as “precogs”. The film examined the role of preventive government in protecting the citizens of a country while it showed a protagonist who is accused of a crime he has not committed become a fugitive.
Another American science fiction television series named ‘Person of Interest’ shows that a computer programmer develops a technology that is capable of collating information to predict and identify people planning of committing terrorist acts or crimes.
In fact, in reality as well, there is a provision of preventive detention in the legal system of a number of countries including Australia, Canada, Costa Rica, Denmark, Germany, Malaysia, New Zealand and India. All of these countries, though, have specified rules and circumstances for preventive detention to be exercised.
There are provisions for preventive detention in India as well with the first Preventive Detention Act of the country coming into effect in 1950. The constitution has specific rules and regulations for action as well as prevention of misuse of preventive detention. But yes! The provision exists.
The preventive detention in these countries, including India, does not depend upon artificial intelligence, but as China attempts to do that, other countries of the world might think of following suit, in an attempt to prevent crime and terrorism.
Given the rising rate of terrorism and criminal activities in the world, use facial recognition and artificial intelligence such as keeping a track of people’s social media updates and browsing history to determine their criminal tendencies could be the next resort of police and governments across the world.
However, the budding technology raises doubts about the possibility of miscarriage of justice, since it is believed that China’s judicial system lacks the necessary checks and balances, which could be the case for other countries trailing artificial intelligence for preventing crime and terrorism.
Moreover, with citizens conscious of being tracked at each and every moment of their life, will they be able to live a free life and exercise their fundamentals rights as citizens of a country?