• Pajamas Media
Has the future of police work arrived? You might think so if you had read an article that appeared in the August 21 edition of the Los Angeles Times. Running under the headline “Stopping crime before it starts,” the article described recent advances in what is known as “predictive policing,” in which complex mathematical formulas are used to forecast when and where crimes are likely to occur.
Similar technology is already used to predict consumer behavior. The article, by Times writer Joel Rubin, tells of the decision made several years ago at Florida Wal-Mart stores to lay in an extra supply of strawberry Pop-Tarts in advance of an approaching hurricane. The numbers had been crunched, Rubin writes, and they produced an undeniable fact: “When Mother Nature gets angry, people want to eat a lot more strawberry Pop-Tarts.”
Some scientists believe this same sort of number crunching can be used to predict the behavior of criminals, regarding them as they might a flock of B.F. Skinner’
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