back to article Lab explores dystopian future of AI helping cops catch criminals

America's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory is looking into how AI technologies can be used to create a "Digital Police Officer" or "D-PO" in the future. Freedom-of-information requests filed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation show the US Department of Energy-funded lab envisions cops may one day be able to partner up …

  1. M.V. Lipvig Silver badge

    "Both companies have worked together before. Motional launched tests of its self-driving, electric IONIQ 5 vehicles to deliver food to Uber Eats customers in Santa Monica, California in May."

    Motional didn't learn the first time?

    Robo-taxis, no thanks. I'd rather walk, and will avoid cities that have these. No touristy dollars from me for you! Shame too, I spend little during the year and like to have an expensively good time on vacation.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I look forward to robo-taxis and rented self-driving vehicle pools. The idea of dropping $50,000 on a new vehicle and then hundreds of dollars a month in insurance, fuel, and maintenance is crazy for what little driving I would need to do in my life.

  2. IGotOut Silver badge

    So what could go wrong.

    Given AI"s inabilty to distinguish beween faces, unless of pure Aryan stock, that most black people are criminals (according to the US justice system) and all crminals are evil, chuck ina bunch of trigger happy cops...What could possibly go wrong?

    1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: So what could go wrong.

      The entire idea of the D-PO is dangerously misguided, right from the name. Being a decent police officer – and there are many, even in the US – is enormously more complex than image recognition and querying databases. It's one of a handful of professions at the very top of the list for requiring nuanced human capabilities we don't understand well, such as evaluating the emotional states of multiple people in a charged situation.

      "Scientific policing" tools have a very mixed record. Fingerprint and DNA evidence mostly seems to be reliable if the lab is rigorous1 and ethical2, and if applied in a scientific manner and not overrated when described to judges and juries. Some other forensic techniques are highly suspect (e.g. facial reconstruction from skulls) or outright fraudulent.

      Elevating one of these tools – particularly one that's overly general and poorly understood – to the status of "police assistant" or, worse, "police officer", is an astonishingly bad idea.

      1Various studies have shown wildly differing results from multiple labs when evaluating partial fingerprint matches, for example.

      2There have been numerous documented cases of labs faking results to give police and prosecutors false evidence.

  3. b0llchit Silver badge

    My AI is better

    You are guilty.

    One line, one message, one AI program: You are guilty.

    We are all guilty of something. Does not matter what you are guilty of. You have something to hide and you have fear. Therefore, you are guilty. Guilty as charged!

    See, an AI with minimal effort to clean up our society of guilty individuals. Soon it will be completely clean of all individuals. Completely clean.

  4. ThatOne Silver badge

    US AI Bill of Rights

    > and should be able to opt out of automated services if possible (emphasis mine)

    You should have been able, but sorry, "computer says no"...

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Joy of Joys ... can it get any better !!!

    "D-PO would be capable of, for instance, tapping into facial recognition systems to alert a police officer on patrol to a suspect nearby, and can even offer advice on how best to apprehend the suspect."

    According to current actual US of A policing practice that would be:

    Identify ethnicity of suspect.

    If not 'white' draw AI augmented weapon, point in direction of suspect, AI targets and fires weapon, arrest body and confirm Facial Recognition was correct !!!

    [Sorry, but is this not the first steps to 'Judge Dredd']

  6. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge


    "Please put down your weapon. You have 20 seconds to comply."

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: ED-209

      Well at least it's a slightly more interesting reference than the tired old Skynet cliches

  7. An_Old_Dog Silver badge

    Fahrenheit 451

    I'm surprised D-PO does not include a procaine needle.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    or Precriminals?

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