You Look Like A Criminal! Predicting Crime With Algorithms

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Can you really predict if someone is going to commit a crime?

Some authorities are using facial recognition, predictive analytics and machine learning to predict who will commit a crime. Even if you can use an algorithm to deduce the likelihood of an individual’s future, to apprehend a suspect before a crime is even committed surely cannot lead to a conviction as no offence will have actually taken place. Yes, this is all very Minority Report.

Nevertheless, companies are currently working on these technologies to catch the bad guys before they even strike.

Cloud Walk tracks people’s location to note where they go and rates them on how likely they are of committing a crime using this location data. According to a spokesperson talking to Financial Times, authorities in China can track location data and purchases – a person buying just a kitchen knife would not be considered suspicious. If this person goes on to buy a hammer and sack later, their rating goes up and their potential for committing a crime flags up.

Researchers at Shanghai Jiao Tong University have carried out a study linking criminality and facial images. Training algorithms with headshots of over 1000 faces from government IDs, with 700 of …

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