April 18th, 2010 10:30 EST
Pre-Crime: Will Technology be Able to Prevent Crimes?
In the years since the 9/11 American Airlines bombings, the US Department of Defense began actively collecting data on the American people through computer technology. In addition, the FBI and other organizations increased their threshold of technological information gathering. Pockets of information gathering systems for these various organizations are scattered throughout the country and remotely collect data from computer users.
Anyone who has used an IP blocking program, such as Protowall, frequently might have seen DoD Information Systems " come up as a blocked IP address. Progressing alongside the DoD`s data mining, there is a computing developing organization called the Web Bot Project which has developed sophisticated algorithms that draw data from internet search queries to make world-wide predictions. Based on global world input the development organization allegedly predicted a catastrophic event months before 9/11. This technology is aimed at tapping into the collective unconscious of humanity. With these two highly advanced Computer technologies, how will the future of law enforcement change, and will these changes effect the rights of the American People?
I feel that defense technology in America is only a few steps away from an anti-crime network system, which could lead to changes in law enforcement. With the Government`s ability to collect data and track possible perpetrators of terrorism, and an algorithm like that of Web Bot`s, it could soon become possible to stop criminals from perpetrating crimes. By filtering through a potential criminal`s internet behavior, in addition to the FBI`s usual assortment of surveillance technology, crimes are already being prevented with Government computing technology. However, the technology could go further to prevent criminals from perpetrating crime.
Firstly, databases like that of the DoD`s anti-terrorism network, could be set up for many other types of domestic crime. Second, an increase in the scope of law enforcement surveillance on all civilians could be developed. Lastly, the big companies like Google and Microsoft which control most of the Internet must be placed under stricter government control to have an even more accurate grasp of the data used by law enforcement personnel. If these three steps are taken, the existing government and law enforcement databases would be many times more replete with data. With this data, criminals could be more accurately incarcerated. And with a sophisticated algorithms like that of Web Bot`s, suspect areas or people, could be researched and analyzed for investigation before a crime is even committed. An anti-crime network system would be like a sixth sense for law enforcement.
Yet, there is a huge risk with this technology: with such control over a nation`s populace, the issues of American freedom and individuality are raised. It is a bit invasive to have a computer network watching over everything an individual does to say the least.
The question of accuracy of this theoretical anti-crime-network`s predictions could be an issue at first, but technology always seems to advance and perfect its errors. The real issue is imagining a world, where every step one takes in life is being watched by a technological autocracy, within America`s democratic government.
Such technology reminds me somewhat of dystopian classics like 1984 and Brave New World. Let us hope, that our law enforcement technology does not become as severe as in these classics.