More than a dozen police forces in the UK already use - or are planning to use - computer programs to "predict" where crime will take place and who will commit those crimes.
At first glance, this doesn't appear to be anything the public should be worried about.
But if, like me, you understand how our corrupt police service works then this is a development that should worry us all.
Be afraid. Be very afraid. Because these machines rely on data that police already hold on each and every one of us.
And that data is already highly questionable.
You see, the data that police hold on all of us is called "intelligence" (yes, I know, the words "intelligence" and "police" are not normally words that you'd ever use in the same sentence, but lets leave that aside for a moment).
The problem with police "intelligence" data is that there's nothing intelligent about it and the dubious ways it is compiled. Any copper can add any information he or she wants about an innocent member of the public to that persons intelligence file. No corroboration or proof that the information being entered is correct is required.
As a result, millions of these so-called intelligence files exist and they often hold vast amounts of data containing nothing more than biased innuendo and unproven information about members of the public, compiled by any number of vindictive or unscrupulous police officers you've had the misfortune to meet with at any time in your life.
Worse still, even if you have NEVER had any problems or dealings with any police in your life, they can still have an intelligence file on you.
If a police officer calls in at, say, your neighbours house and happens to glance over and see you in your garden rolling up some Old Holborn or Golden Virginia, he can easily jump to a wrong conclusion and have it entered in to "intelligence" that you are a possible drug user/dealer. Voila, it's that simple. You now have an intelligence file with your name on it and you're well on your way to becoming public enemy number one. Now fast forward to a few years later and, let's say, the drug squad think someone in your street is dealing in illegal substances. Guess who's house in your street is gonna get raided first. Yip, yours. Put that in your pipe and smoke it as they say.
It's that easy. That's how the police intelligence system works. Any police officer can add any data to your intelligence file for any reason, no questions asked, no proof required...and no transparency. You'll never know.
If a police officer doesn't like the look of you he simply makes an entry in to the intelligence database that you're "one for the watching" as it were. Police can do it because, well, because they can. Every copper knows that no proof is required, no corroboration is required, there's no transparency and there's no oversight in place to catch any of his vindictive actions against you
Here's a real-world, personal, example of this.
A few years ago, I tried to sue Police Scotland. Shortly afterwards I found myself being unusually stopped by police while driving my car. I was stopped by police on a VERY regular basis. Each time, police stopped me they hassled me for no reason whatsoever. They always gave the same excuse that it was "just routine" (which is an excuse, not a reason by the way). On EVERY occasion I was stopped, police officers checked my tax, insurance, mot, tyre pressure, vehicle condition, asked me to lift the bonnet, open the boot, you name it. And EVERY time, after they realised that everything with me and my vehicle was entirely proper and in order, they sent me on my way with not so much as an apology for the inconvenience.
I got so fed up with it all, I sold that particular vehicle. That was almost two years ago.
I then bought a new, different vehicle with a different registration plate.
So guess how many times I've been stopped in the last two years by police in my new, different vehicle with its different registration plate?
Not even once, not ever!
Now, anyone with a brain in their head can see that police were targeting me just because in the past I had the audacity to try and sue them and hold them accountable. How dare I. They made sure they gave me so much aggravation that it would discourage me from ever trying to sue them again [edit: it won't].
But how did all these other, normal, everyday, beat-police and traffic cops - who clearly DIDN'T know me personally - know that they should stop me in my car and hassle me?
It's because police have a number plate recognition system which flags up registration numbers of vehicles and the people who may be driving those vehicles as being "persons of interest". Every time police saw me in my car, an alert flagged up that I was "one for the watching".
Biased and vindictive information from biased and vindictive police officers who didn't like the complaints I made against them a few years ago was still being fed through to ordinary beat police and traffic cops and encouraging them to hassle me, even years later. That's how it works.
So you can already see that the problem with police using computer programs to predict who will commit a crime and where that crime will be committed has to rely on already existing police intelligence data that we now know has often been obtained through non-transparent methods and in many cases is biased, vindictive, and inaccurate.
As if that's not bad enough, to add insult to injury, there exists NO clear evidence whatsoever to show that this seriously flawed new technology makes our communities safer. None.
Instead, what it DOES do is increase racial profiling, erosions of privacy of innocent members of the public, and more infringement of our rights without police having to provide any sort of comprehensive oversight, proper regulation, or rights compliance.
When policing is not transparent, policing is dangerous.
And policing is already dangerous due to years of a growing culture from within UK police forces where any sort of transparency is baulked at by officers. Why do you think police officers hate wearing video cameras? Hey, we can't have innocent members of the public who have done absolutely nothing wrong being able to prove they did nothing wrong after police have spent all that time targeting them and trying to charge them to get their arrest figures up can we?
We already live in a country where police have far too much power already. Police constantly abuse that power to target innocent members of the public rather than help, support, and protect the public.
I think we all agree that machines have more intelligence than police (hey, my next door neighbours pet Chihuahua has more intelligence than most of the police officers I've met).
But if the data in the machine is derived from the data in the intelligence files - which were written up by already untrustworthy police officers - the predictions and results the machines output will be every bit as unfair, vindictive, biased, and mired in corruption as the untrustworthy police officers who compiled it in the first place.
Ask any computer operator and they'll tell you, rubbish in, rubbish out.