Researchers at the University of Chicago have discovered an AI model that, after analyzing historical crime data from 2014 to 2016, managed to predict the crime levels for the following weeks with 90 percent accuracy. This experiment was replicated in seven other U.S cities with similar levels of success.
Crime-detection AI: The good, the bad and the concerning
Published in Nature Human Behavior, these sets of studies not only focused on predicting crime but also provided valuable data on crime patterns and even self-reflective responses to crime measures.
Professor James Evans, Co-Director of MACSS and co-author of the research paper, told Science Daily that this initiative allowed the researchers
to ask novel questions, and lets us evaluate police action in new ways.
This being said, the research also shed light on the fact that socio-economic factors had a tangible effect on police action. Assistant professor at the University of Chicago, Ishanu Chattopadhyay, told Insider that the data gained from the AI models detected that crime committed in higher-income neighborhoods led to more arrests than those in lower-income neighborhoods.
Such predictions enable us to study perturbations of crime patterns that suggest that the response to increased crime is biased by neighborhood socio-economic status, draining policy resources from socio-economically disadvantaged areas, as demonstrated in eight major U.S. cities
He also told Science Daily that research had illuminated the fact that when
“you stress the system, it requires more resources to arrest more people in response to crime in a wealthy area and draws police resources away from lower socioeconomic status areas.”
Fixing the bias
In response to the crime-detection AI’s bias, Chattopadhyay noted how the researchers were attempting to reduce the effect of the bias by focusing on the sites of crime over identifying suspects. He told Insider that
“Ideally, if you can predict or pre-empt crime, the only response is not to send more officers or flood a particular community with law enforcement. If you could preempt crime, there are a host of other things that we could do to prevent such things from actually happening so no one goes to jail, and helps communities as a whole.”
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