September 14, 2011

Unlike Philip K. Dick’s novel “The Minority Report” or the film inspired by the novel, the program relies on algorithms, and not mutants to predict the likelihood of something happening

The police department in Santa Cruz has employed predictive algorithms to reduce burglaries and car break-ins.

The heart of the program is the belief that criminals often commit a second or third crime in the same location and the same time as a first successful crime. For example, if a burglar is successful breaking into a home at 2 p.m. in a certain neighborhood because no one is home, the criminal will use that experience to do it again to another house in the same neighborhood around the same time.

In the case of Santa Cruz, on California’s central coast and home to a University of California campus, that would be about four days later.

The algorithm knows this because Mohler has fed eight years of data on crimes in Santa Cruz into the algorithm.

Now you know, and I guess, so do the criminals.

comments

  1. Joel Bernstein on September 14th, 2011 at 10:56 am

    I, for one, welcome our new computer overlords.