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Pre-Crime, Directors – Mathias Heeder and Monika Hielscher

May 16, 2017

Have you ever seen the Tom Cruise film Minority Report? The movie is based on a classic Phillip Dick sci-fi story in which police have the ability to predict who will commit crimes and arrest them for a “pre-crime” and punish them. Minority Report finds Cruise caught in this web of surveillance that includes not just predicting who will commit crime but also how this kind of surveillance influences product promotion and involves a total invasion of personal privacy. What this documentary shows us is that we are not all that far from this dystopian world. The online world and computerized products is collecting unlimited information about all of us and we are willing participants as we grant permission for this kind of collection. The data can be mined for any number of purposes and this includes predicting crime even who might commit a crime and where. Police are already using this kind of information to direct their own patrols and investigations. The trouble is that the data used to guide this activity is often flawed. A simple example is when you shoo for a gift for someone on Amazon, something you would never buy for yourself, and find yourself bombarded with ads for similar products for days and weeks afterward. Not too awful but the point is that the data being used to guide ads to you is flawed and incomplete. This becomes more serious when law enforcement uses flawed data to guide its actions. Often this means targeting minority communities and individuals and ignoring other crimes and crime sites. The idea of Driving While Black is a case in point but this film points to even more devious, hidden uses of private data to control our society and our police forces. Again – scary stuff. A really interesting film worth your time.

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