Pre-Crime

Pre-crime.  Part 2 of the Modeling and Profiling Blog

by Mike Swetnam

Many have noted that the greatest threat to the human race in the 21st century is ultra-powerful technology (like nuclear, bio weapons, or nano tech) in the hands of madmen.

Clearly there are technologies like nuclear and bio that can destroy all or most of us.  Also there is no shortage of crazy leaders and despots who would not hesitate to use these weapons if they could.

There is also a rising number of people who just lose it and go ‘postal’.  People that are so disenfranchised, so disconnected, and so nuts that they grab a gun and start shooting.  We have had far too many of these incidents this past decade.

Combine the rising number of ‘postal’ cases with the increasing availability of bad technology, like bio and how long will it be before some crazy person cooks up a super virus instead of crabbing a gun?

This is a really bad concept!

A crazy person with a gun might kill 20 innocent children, but a crazy person with advanced biotech can kill millions!

We can not let that happen!

How do we prevent this Marriage of Mayhem: destructive technology married to a crazy fatalistic personality?

We certainly don’t want to wait for it to happen, and then just prosecute the crazy person.  It would be far better to find, identify, and deal with the crazy before he did the deed that killed millions.

Fortunately, we are developing the behavior modeling technology to do this.  Today, industry models your buying behavior so well that they can predict what you will buy.

All of us have joined these frequent buyer programs that track what we buy, how often, and what we buy at the same time.  This data has been used to profile us.  These profiles of our behavior help industry market to us in very targeted ways.

They also help industry identify and deal with fraud.  When someone steals a credit card and attempts to use it, the profile of that fraudulent use is different then the profile of the card owner.  Computer programs note the difference and alarms go off.  These alarms are used to stop fraud and miss-use early.  This happens when you travel to new places and use your card in strange and new ways that cause the card company to want you to call in and verify your identity.

This same technology can be used to identify the behavior of someone getting ready to go postal.  It turns out that the behavior of those approaching the breaking point is fairly identifiable.

As this technology develops and is proven accurate, with low false alarms, how will we use it?

The US Constitution says that one is innocent until proven guilty.  Can we legislate the legitimacy of scientific models as proof of potential future guilt?

These are not esoteric questions.  Our very survival could be threatened by madmen with access to bad and destructive technology.  It is absolutely clear that we cannot wait for them to attempt our destruction to act.  It is just as clear that our basic beliefs in innocence until proven guilty will be challenged by these realities.

It’s time for a Constitutional discussion that we have not had for 237 years.

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