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Cops are now using AI to predict crime before it happens

Published May 11th, 2017 11:04PM EDT

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In a timely reminder that we’re pretty much living in a sci-fi future that writers from the 1950s could only have dreamed of, law enforcement officers in the UK are now turning to AI to predict future crime. But before you go daydreaming of Minority Report-style “precogs” swimming in vats of strange blue liquid, you should know that this system is a bit different than the one Tom Cruise was so adapt at utilizing.

The system, called HART (short for Harm Assessment Risk Tool), is built specifically to form an opinion about current offenders and offer police a guess as to whether or not they’re going to reoffend to become an even bigger problem down the road. It was built by a University of Cambridge professor in partnership with other agencies and institutions, and it uses a three-tiered “risk category” system to assign arrested suspects with either a high, medium, or low risk label.

The advanced tool utilizes a total of 34 different predictors including age, IQ, and gender, and most notably does not factor race into account whatsoever. HART’s digital mind was trained using half a decade worth of arrest and offender data, breaking down all arrested offenders into figures and statistics to offer a scientific foundation for its predictions.

What’s even more interesting about HART is its remarkable speed. Once a suspect’s data is applied, the system takes just 11 seconds to decide what category to place them in. The system is slated to go live in just a few months and, assuming it does its job, will likely be adopted by other police forces in short order.