back to article Brit boffins get $800k for Los Angeles Twitter pre-crime tech

Researchers from the University of Cardiff have been awarded more than $800,000 by the US Department of Justice to develop a pre-crime detection system. Boffins from the University’s Social Data Science Lab, which brings together a range of scientists to study the methodological, theoretical, empirical and technical dimensions …

  1. disgruntled yank Silver badge


    On to sentence first, then verdict.

  2. tfewster Silver badge

    1) Clean up the LAPD

    2) Watch hate-crime rates drop like a stone (both LAPD performed and retaliatory acts) as tensions ease.

    $400,000 please. And if hate crime rates drop by < 50%, I'll give you proportional refund

  3. ma1010 Silver badge
    Big Brother

    I thought our security people were alredy doing that.

    Perhaps this sort of thing could work with deep data mining techniques, but I'm expecting more in the way of this.

    If that's all it amounts to, then don't expect much.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Faint audio, cold beer.

    Well, we were waiting patiently for the hate crime to occur, which makes us as officers very nervous, when all of a sudden we saw a suspicious young black male youth. We made a judgement call, and with our prediction model we should of been right. With your life and the lives of the innocent on the line, one cannot over look ones mistakes. But we must secure peace at any cost. Sadly, that cost can be high, even higher when tragic mistakes are made. We are reaching out to the family and friends over the loss of this young man. Our prayers are with them.

    Next up, a man shows his newborn the wonderful world of birds as he used an air hitch to attach his newborn to a C-88 drone. Stay tuned!

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    a pre-crime detection system

    And we all know how well that worked. How is this likely to be any different?

    1. veti Silver badge

      Yeah, except that's not what they're talking about at all.

      If you read the article, it's about predicting that it's likely that a crime will be committed in such a place in such a time window, and putting a couple of cops there to deter it. That's really no different from having police line the route of a street demo or a carnival.

      Of course there are obvious problems with measuring the performance of this model - a bit like Lisa Simpson's tiger-repelling stone - but actually, it's easier than you'd think. All you have to do is deploy it in some areas of the city for a controlled period, and measure the overall reported crime rates in areas where it is used versus those where it isn't. If there's a statistically significant improvement, then great. If not - oh well, it was only a million bucks, pretty small potatoes really.

      1. tfewster Silver badge
        Facepalm such a place in such a time window such a place...

        I predict it will be a Venn diagram of areas where groups intersect. Don't worry too much about A-only or B-only areas, as the other group will rarely go there. Also, the full intersection should be quiet as the groups accept each other through familiarity. But the borders of the intersections where the enclaves aren't used to seeing "outsiders" will be the flashpoints.

        When I visited Belfast in the 90s I was struck by the "arrangement" of the outlying townships along the Fall Road - Catholic, Protestant, then Catholic, then Protestant, and so on. Relatively peaceful normally, but whenever a group from town N wanted to march to join their compatriots in town N+2, all hell broke loose. such a time...

        After a few beers. Or a previous incident

        But the police already know all this. The only difference here is "monitoring social media", which I find quite disturbing - So all of everyone's posts are going to be analysed (and correlated with their locations) to see if they're planning mischief? That's a wider net than the Security agencies use - at least they only watch known hotspots and individuals.

    2. Robert Helpmann?? Silver badge

      a pre-crime detection system

      And we all know how well that worked. How is this likely to be any different?

      That was fiction. It was a cautionary tale, to be certain, but this is a real world tool. It is highly unlikely to function anything like the Precrime unit in Minority Report, but like any tool in the hands of those with power, it is apt to be abused at some point. I would like to know what safeguards and oversight are being built into the system.

  6. Chris G Silver badge

    To Protect and Serve

    "Predictive policing is a proactive law enforcement model that has become more common partially due to the advent of advanced analytics such as data mining and machine-learning methods.”

    We need ALL of your data, then we can help you to be a good citizen.

    Or a model prisoner.

    1. Oengus Silver badge

      Re: To Protect and Serve

      We need ALL of your data, then we can help you to be a good citizen.

      Or and a model prisoner.

      FTFY because in a society with this sort of policing we will be in a permanent "prison".

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hmm, hope they've got some very capable mathematicians on their team.

    1. Rich 11 Silver badge

      I'm sure they have, but do they have any good analysts? GIGO.

  8. cantankerous swineherd Silver badge

    more sciency truthiness coming up.

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