Predictive policing: Crime prevention or profiling? | Techtopia

Predictive policing: Crime prevention or profiling? | Techtopia

Police departments around the world use technology to predict crimes and who will commit them. But critics warn that such “predictive policing” is ineffective and often discriminates against minorities.

In this episode of DW’s Techtopia, DW Chief Technology Correspondent Janosch Delcker investigates the rise of the technology, showing how the life of one Amsterdam family was turned upside down after their teenage son was flagged as a future offender.

0:00 Intro
0:40 What to expect
1:18 The Netherlands case, part 1
3:45 How predictive policing works
4:34 How common is the use?
5:16 The Netherlands case, part 2
9:48 The controversy over predictive policing
10:05 How software can reinforce discrimination
11:17 The Netherlands case, part 3
12:17 Does predictive policing work?
13:19 Pushback
14:50 What does the law say?
15:20 The Netherlands case, part 4
17:40 When is it okay to use predictive policing?
18:35 Outro


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  1. The real question? Does predictive policing reduce the likelihood that those likeliest to commit crimes will ultimately be saved from imprisonment for committing crimes?

  2. Man, such bad data from ridiculous data collection. Calling it all "historically embedded" is giving a high-brow error status it simply doesn't deserve. I'm not in principle against the preventive intent of predictive programming, but it's like the ol' saying: Garbage in, garbage out. And then, to not even examine its effectiveness ….

  3. It's not a problem to use technology to prevent crime. This is not like "minority report". The problem is that prison and other punishments do not prevent reoffending. So, once someone is in the system, they are marked, often for life. Only early intervention at home, in schools can stop a fall into criminality. Rehabilitation is important, but rarely implemented well in our society.

  4. Sooo, how about a study: generate the lists. Randomly select half. Treat the selected half like proposed (increased police surveillance etc.).
    Treat the other half as not on the list. After some time, compare the two groups. Did the social programs help or did they commit more crime?

  5. This "system" is programed by humans, of course it will become corrupt.
    Honestly, programs need to start at the wealthiest, once caught embezzling Millions, send the low income the fines being paid by the criminals that are making it almost impossible to feed your family due to financial problems; caused by the richest.

  6. I love it. Evil people, wrong doers will be always there. You cannot prevent them from being born. We need to improve our system to prevent evil people from doing harm to the innocent. I have nothing to hide and my intentions are good. I am fot it. Waiting for better results.

  7. all they have to do is check how many people on the 400 and 600 list committed a crime. that alone will tell you if it justifies having such a list. besides Amsterdam is not exactly Johannesburg. But that is what modern journalism is 'shock and fear' of the authority. try living in a country without government control, its much much worst for the 'common citizen'

  8. The cops, the government, the reporters, the people interviewed, this video… you all miss the biggest point. If the computer can predict which conditions lead to crime we just could, you know, CHANGE THEM?! How about preventing people from becoming criminals, instead of focusing on policing every potential criminal?

  9. The Key is transparency and right to be forgotten. Some of these Political-Activist are bigots themselves. If Data shows were Crime may occurs more likely and lead to more efficient police resource use its "racism". If Social Science and Politics uses data and software to predict social issues for better social policies planing its "factual". Also the EU is not USA or China, completely different social system from Top to bottom. In the end Its not about Tech, its about ideology.
    Example. The Capital of Germany – Berlin – is led by a Left-Wing Government. This Local City Gov. decided to stop publishing data about Hate-Crimes on LGBTQ People in Berlin Districts. Any guess why? Because they do not like the outcome of the data. Because the majority of Hate Crimes happen in districts with a majority of immigrants and it does not fit the woke narrative of their identity politics. So they stop to publish the data for districts. Now imagine the political opposite. if a right wing city gov. would stop publishing right wing hate crimes all of the sudden. There would be "rightfully" so a outrage. I do not trust any of these Activist or Politicians to make a good decision – no matter left or right. Purplish the Algorithm, have a open debate about the prediction tree and let the people decide.

  10. Because hospitals refuse to treat cronic pain, a lot of victims will have to selfmedicate. And become criminals to survive.
    Imagine a person losing more than 50% iq because of cronic pain, and taste painkiller medicine making it possible to feel nearly back to 100% iq, and doctors still diagnosing this as a disease?
    I can probably prove 50% of kids being bedridden for a week or more, will become criminals.
    The scar tissue don’t grow, and nerves get stretched into puberty.
    And nobody even try to research on this, because only medicine is vitamins? Maybe a year with extra vit d, like 4-5 more than recomended, and tiamin b1, or benfotiamin, for each week bedridden as child.

  11. Ok, nice. So all I have to do is pay to future-seeing cop the fine for my future murders and ill be ok. Its as if nothing changed at all!! NNNNIIIIICCEEEEE…

  12. Can they predict what happens under a surveillance society with the people's own morality compass?
    No? Let me give you a hint from someone that lived in Romania during communism:

    Everyone will learn to LIE and accept LIES as being normal.
    Everyone will learn that CORRUPTION is part of the norm.
    Everyone will learn to HIDE their true intentions so deep that the system cannot understand what is going on.
    And everyone will HATE the system and wait for the right moment to revolt and put the leaders against a wall…

    I bet your East Germans may know a thing or two about this.
    Why don't you ask them? Are you afraid of their answers?

    Oh, and what happens if bad actors hack your "prediction algorithm", stole data and then use it to blackmail people? Or worse, input wrong data and the AI makes wrong predictions about someone?

    Who will answer?