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Software Used To Predict Who Might Kill

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the three-psychics-in-a-pool dept.

Software 361

eldavojohn writes "Richard Berk, a University of Pennsylvania criminologist, has worked with authorities to develop a software tool that predicts who will commit homicide. I could not find any papers published on this topic by Berk, nor any site stating what specific Bayesian / decision tree algorithm / neural net is being implemented." From the article: "The tool works by plugging 30 to 40 variables into a computerized checklist, which in turn produces a score associated with future lethality. 'You can imagine the indicators that might incline someone toward violence: youth; having committed a serious crime at an early age; being a man rather than a woman, and so on. Each, by itself, probably isn't going to make a person pull the trigger. But put them all together and you've got a perfect storm of forces for violence,' Berk said. Asked which, if any, indicators stood out as reliable predicators of homicide, Berk pointed to one in particular: youthful exposure to violence." The software is to enter clinical trials next spring in the Philadelphia probation department. Its intent is to serve as a kind of triage: to let probation caseworkers concentrate most of their effort on the former offenders most likely to be most dangerous.

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361 comments

Games (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17096354)

youthful exposure to violence.

I wonder if we'll see this article in the gaming section sometime in the future..

Re:Games (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17096402)

I think the article probably meant witnessing violence in person, like in your home or on the street, but I would be interested to know whether it meant games too.

Re:Games (3, Insightful)

creimer (824291) | more than 7 years ago | (#17096446)

Sure. Once they start plugging in the stats from Halo 2, that will make it obvious as to who is willing to kill or suck the big one.

Bad Idea. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17096356)

I though Tom Cruise already explained why this was a bad idea...

Edit: Bad Idea. (4, Informative)

SynapseLapse (644398) | more than 7 years ago | (#17096600)

I thought Phillip K. Dick already explained why this was a bad idea...

There, I edited that for you buddy.
Let's just leave it at that's what you really intended, because otherwise I'll destroy all of my karma in spewing forth a slur of obscenities about how...
well, let's just leave it at that.

popcorn (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17096362)

Hey I've seen that movie! Tom Cruise survives and gets to have the cute girl!

Re:popcorn (0, Offtopic)

jpardey (569633) | more than 7 years ago | (#17096444)

Which movie? The Perfect Storm?

Re:popcorn (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17096538)

Minority Report

Re:popcorn (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17096564)

Woooossh!

Re:popcorn (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17096790)

Whoosh???
I'm still trying to figure out what the Perfect Storm has to do with Minority Report or were you just talking about Tom Cruise gets girl part?

I believe the answer was... (2, Funny)

macadamia_harold (947445) | more than 7 years ago | (#17096364)

I could not find any papers published on this topic by Berk, nor any site stating what specific Bayesian / decision tree algorithm / neural net is being implemented.

Yeah, I think if you ask for it to answer that question, the algorithm responds "I'm sorry dave, I'm afraid I can't do that."

Brians (1)

The_Mr_Flibble (738358) | more than 7 years ago | (#17096368)

They also found that people with enlarged frontal lobes were also more likely to be a murderer

Re:Brians (1)

psychrono (1030230) | more than 7 years ago | (#17096502)

Did it suggest possible causes for the enlarged frontal lobes? Perhaps swelling of the brain from adolescent child abuse? I'm no doctor, so I can't say if that's even possible, but your brain can slosh around pretty good, so any kind of excessive abuse may cause some abnormalities in some way I suppose.

Also, I first interpreted the parent post as "All people named Brian have large frontal lobes and thus are more likely to be a murderer".
Good thing my name isn't Brian :)

Reference (4, Informative)

Quixote (154172) | more than 7 years ago | (#17096376)

This paper was published in the June 2006 issue of "The Journal of Quantitative Criminology".
Here are the pertinent details:
Title: Forecasting Dangerous Inmate Misconduct: An Application of Ensemble Statistical Procedures
Journal: Journal of Quantitative Criminology
Issue: Volume 22, Number 2 / June, 2006
Pages: 131-145

Abstract:
In this paper, we attempt to forecast which prison inmates are likely to engage in very serious misconduct while incarcerated. Such misconduct would usually be a major felony if committed outside of prison: drug trafficking, assault, rape, attempted murder and other crimes. The binary response variable is problematic because it is highly unbalanced. Using data from nearly 10,000 inmates held in facilities operated by the California Department of Corrections, we show that several popular classification procedures do no better than the marginal distribution unless the data are weighted in a fashion that compensates for the lack of balance. Then, random forests performs reasonably well, and better than CART or logistic regression. Although less than 3% of the inmates studied over 24 months were reported for very serious misconduct, we are able to correctly forecast such behavior about half the time.

Unfortunately, you've got to pay $30 to get this paper. Maybe some slashdotter with a school/corp subscription to Springer will put up the text? ;-)

Re:Reference (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17096424)

Re:Reference (4, Informative)

dch24 (904899) | more than 7 years ago | (#17096542)

Thanks! However, reading the paper, it seems that this paper is about the California Department of Corrections, and is not actually about who will commit homicide "on the outside." It's about which prisoners are "likely to engage in serious misconduct while incarcerated" (from the abstract). I don't know if this is the right paper. In fact, I'm going to guess that Berk hasn't published a paper on his new method. This paper may be a similar method, but there's no way to know that.

I also wonder in yousendit.com can handle a slashdotting. I guess we'll know soon!

Re:Reference (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17096640)

I'm actually much more interested in how yousendit holds up to the /.ing vs. what this article is about :)

Re:Reference (1)

dysk (621566) | more than 7 years ago | (#17096672)

I also wonder in yousendit.com can handle a slashdotting. I guess we'll know soon!
On the link I posted below I've only gotten 50 hits, and yousendit has a limit of 100 downloads for unpaid accounts, so I don't think too many people are clicking on the article.

Re:Reference (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 7 years ago | (#17096548)

Dear god why. You've read the abstract, it's no better than guessing.

Re:Reference (1)

BlackMesaLabs (893043) | more than 7 years ago | (#17096594)

I have university access to that database, and I just downloaded the pdf (about 200kb, 15 pages, some graphs), but I have no way to get it to anyone, and I'm not suicidal enough to host it for all of slashdot. If someone *really* wants it, leave an email address, and if I come back, I'll send a copy. (as long as there aren't a million email addresses waiting for me when I check back :P )

Torrent (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17096618)

So, this system flags someone (2, Interesting)

Rix (54095) | more than 7 years ago | (#17096378)

Their probation officer pays more attention to them, and they feel trapped in the system. They can't move on and contribute positively, and lash out violently.

Thanks, that helps.

Pretty much. (3, Insightful)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 7 years ago | (#17096394)

Their probation officer pays more attention to them, and they feel trapped in the system. They can't move on and contribute positively, and lash out violently.

Alternately, their probation officer ignores them, and they get dumped out on the street, where they're unable to find a job and contribute positively, and turn to crime instead.

It's a real win/win.

No, it's a Good Thing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17096520)

I always believed that all black ghetto males should be put to jail at birth as potential killers... Because being black and poor makes you a criminal for sure.

Thanks to Dr. Berk, I now feel justified in my bigotry.

Minority Report ??? (0, Redundant)

drpimp (900837) | more than 7 years ago | (#17096384)

in 3 ... 2 ... 1

Re:Minority Report ??? (1)

utopianfiat (774016) | more than 7 years ago | (#17096724)

OT:
I'd do more of a:
while(!drunk) {
try{
drink();
sex();
} catch ( TooDrunkException e ) { throw new lunch(); }
catch ( SexuallyTransmittedDisease d ) { throw e; } // pass on our disease to someone else
}

Youthful exposure to violence? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17096388)

With entertainment the way it is right now, sounds like we can expect a whole generation of people, "Ready to pull the trigger."

Oh shit..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17096396)

I don't even know where to begin to list the potential for abuse for something like this.
go rent Minority Report.

Utter BS (2, Insightful)

suv4x4 (956391) | more than 7 years ago | (#17096398)

"Richard Berk, a University of Pennsylvania criminologist, has worked with authorities to develop a software tool that predicts who will commit homicide.

This is utter BS, and a plain simple statistics based profiler.
I'm so pissed off after reading about this "supposed", that I wanna kill someone.

And don't forget, all arabs are terrorists! Don't forget to give them obvious, dirty looks full of awareness of their terroristic descent, when you happen to see one.

Re:Utter BS (1)

forgotten_my_nick (802929) | more than 7 years ago | (#17096654)

Probably does more then statistics. Reminds me of a story.

This girl and her sister are attending a funeral of their mother who has died of old age. At the funeral the girl meets this guy she never met before, both hit it off big time. However when she gets home she realises that she got no contact information so is unable to speak to him. A few days later the sister is murdered by the girl. Why?

Re:Utter BS (1)

suv4x4 (956391) | more than 7 years ago | (#17096716)

This girl and her sister are attending a funeral of their mother who has died of old age. At the funeral the girl meets this guy she never met before, both hit it off big time. However when she gets home she realises that she got no contact information so is unable to speak to him. A few days later the sister is murdered by the girl. Why?

I'll tell you if you guess my age which is three times what it was X years ago and 5 times it was Y years ago, and somehow manages to be a prime number, and contain square root of -1, despite all evidence it can't.

Re:Utter BS (1)

suv4x4 (956391) | more than 7 years ago | (#17096744)

This girl and her sister are attending a funeral of their mother who has died of old age. At the funeral the girl meets this guy she never met before, both hit it off big time. However when she gets home she realises that she got no contact information so is unable to speak to him. A few days later the sister is murdered by the girl. Why?

BTW, if this was The Real World, I wouldn't really suspect she did it to meet the guy at the funeral, but because her mother left everything to her sister, and the guy has nothing to do with it.

After all, there' no relation to this guy visiting the mother funeral and visiting the sister funeral. Plus in a real case we wouldn't have all that info about how they hooked up but she didn't have his contact info and what not.

I'm shit boring, you know.. :P

Re:Utter BS (2, Interesting)

Petersson (636253) | more than 7 years ago | (#17096748)

This girl and her sister are attending a funeral of their mother who has died of old age. At the funeral the girl meets this guy she never met before, both hit it off big time. However when she gets home she realises that she got no contact information so is unable to speak to him. A few days later the sister is murdered by the girl. Why?


Hey, that's a psychological classics. If the reply is 'I have no idea, there must be something missing in the story' the person asked have thinking homicidal deviations.


However if the first thing that comes to her/his mind is 'It's clear, she killed her sister in order to be at another funeral so she could meet the guy again' then there is higher possibility that there could be something wrong with the asked person.

Re:Utter BS (1)

Xaositecte (897197) | more than 7 years ago | (#17096780)

If the dude went to the funeral for her mother, then he's gonna show up at her sister's funeral too.

Re:Utter BS (1)

krotkruton (967718) | more than 7 years ago | (#17096660)

That was my first thought on this article as well, until I read the last line: "to let probation caseworkers concentrate most of their effort on the former offenders most likely to be most dangerous."

If this is only used in that manner, then it seems like a good idea to me. However, that's a huge if, and I don't believe for a second that it will only be used by probation officers against convicted criminals.

Re:Utter BS (5, Informative)

Llywelyn (531070) | more than 7 years ago | (#17096714)

1) Convicted criminals are the only ones that concern probation officers.

2) Convicted criminals are the only ones they are likely to have the data to fill most of the fields for.

3) Probation officers have a job to do that does not involve tracking random citizens.

Thus, it seems unlikely it could be used for anything *but* the intended purpose without a fairly serious rework.

Re:Utter BS (1)

Mr2cents (323101) | more than 7 years ago | (#17096832)

And don't forget, all arabs are terrorists! Don't forget to give them obvious, dirty looks full of awareness of their terroristic descent, when you happen to see one.
Is it hate week already? Great!

Minority Report Ring a Bell? (1)

JRW129 (823295) | more than 7 years ago | (#17096400)

Yeah this is definately some scary stuff. I don't think that they should use this stuff at all. If it starts getting used more and more they will think that they can predict who will do what eventually and start arresting people for crimes they have yet to commit. Just like in the movie. Scary Stuff...

Tag as "precrime"... (2, Informative)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 7 years ago | (#17096408)

Yeah except in Minority Report, they were using psychics to predict who would kill; here it's just an overgrown spam filter.

Re:Tag as "precrime"... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17096480)

Exactly.
How about the computer will predict a man is going to destroy the computer. The man is arrested. This forces the son to consult the computer to help his dad. The computer has the son try to destroy the computer to get the dad out of jail.

What story is this?

It's good we don't live in a movie... (1)

kmkz (1022021) | more than 7 years ago | (#17096404)

...like Minority Report

A bit uneasy? (4, Insightful)

sqrt(2) (786011) | more than 7 years ago | (#17096410)

This sounds like a really BAD idea to me. Either it works really well and then people will start asking why it isn't being used on the general population or it wont work and we'll be focusing our attention on the wrong people. What's the indicator of success? A reduction in homicide rates among people singled out? Our justice system is based on dealing with people AFTER they break the law, everyone, even people at "high risk" to commit crime have to actually do something wrong before you can take action. It may just be used to focus rehabilitation and surveillance efforts on high risk people, but the profiling potential for this must be obvious to the people who designed it, then all it takes is for a little public exposure of how this system could have saved some children if it had been used more aggressively. I'm a bit uneasy about any technology or system that seeks to punish people retroactively. The way the article describes it as working seems harmless now, but the potential of abuse is there. Definitely something to keep an eye on.

Re:A bit uneasy? (1)

Lemmy Caution (8378) | more than 7 years ago | (#17096474)

It simply needs to work better than the current methods to be useful. Something to keep an eye on, but it's a lot better than racial profiling. A lot better.

Wait a second, that sounds familar.... (0, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17096416)

Minority Report anyone?

Seriously, if we are having trouble just to secure a voting box that has 6 options, I don't see how we can implement this kinds predicative of system nation wide. These computer systems are too vulnerable to manipulation.

Guys we have a problem (5, Funny)

suv4x4 (956391) | more than 7 years ago | (#17096442)

Excerpt from the test:

...

21. Ever killed or tortured small animals?

22. If yes, did you often think they enjoyed it and wanted more?

23. Are you a minority?

24. Do you read Slashdot?

25. Regularly?


26. Would you punch a guy with glasses in the face?

27. Would you punch a clown in the balls?

...

Re:Guys we have a problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17096466)

From the makers of the pedophile risk test.

1. 4chan?

Re:Guys we have a problem (3, Funny)

smcn (87571) | more than 7 years ago | (#17096680)

[quote]26. Would you punch a guy with glasses in the face?[/quote]
I don't know, having glasses in his face would be pretty painful already.

Gun Ownership (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17096448)

Why spend money to find-out what we already know? It's gun owners that commit nearly 100% of the murders in this country. If we put all of them in prison then we will all be safer. Unfortunately because many of those violent thugs have money and influence through the NRA we will never see a common sense approach to murder prevention. I will never understand why anyone other than a complete idiot would ever own one of those things given that it is 43 times more likely that you will kill yourself or a loved one with a firearm than kill in self-defense.

Hopefully with the much better congress we have now we'll finally get real laws to protect us like we had with the assault weapon ban that was passed by the last good congress that has saved thousands of lives. Many of us are still here only because of the good work the last good congress did.

Re:Gun Ownership (1)

Broken scope (973885) | more than 7 years ago | (#17096570)

Can you please provide data that backs up your claim of lives saved? I mean really, where has a gun ban caused a long term decrease in violence. More specifically where has it reduced things like crimes of passion and first time offenses involving guns?

It doesn't, premeditated murders do not decrease. Crimes involving firearms sold illegally do not decrease because the law does not affect the illegal sales of firearms, it doesn't stop criminals who can't get a gun legally from getting one. It might cause a short term decrease but in the end it only removes guns from the law abiding citizens.

Re:Gun Ownership (1)

Shadow Of The Sun (951477) | more than 7 years ago | (#17096802)

Anyone referencing the assault weapon ban as saving lives is almost always being sarcastic. If you read up on the assault weapon ban, you will find that what it mostly banned cosmetic items like bayonet lugs.

What few specific guns that were banned by name were still sold under other names.

The joke among the gun community was that the ban was meant to get rid of "ugly guns." You can pretty much define "ugly gun" as anything that would look cool in an action movie.

Moderators on drugs? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17096604)

Wow, murder is considered funny?

With the short time I spent in the US I saw just how horrible of a place it is. There are way too many gun owners. Something needs to be done about that. I know I will never return until the US finally puts into place some common sense gun control.

Re:Moderators on drugs? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17096664)

Riiiiight, because places like Brazil (with virtually no legal gun ownership) are much safer than the US. Oh, or there's Washington DC with their super safe streets. Or Chicago. Or San Francisco. Or...

Wait, sorry, got that one backwards didn't I!

Fact: When Florida loosened restrictions on concealed weapon carry to allow law abiding citizens to carry firearms the crime rates (violent or otherwise) dropped sharply, within months.

Fact: Washington DC, Chicago, San Francisco and other gun hating metropolitan areas make it harder for law abiding citizens to own and use firearms, crime goes up, not down.

Fact: No gun ever shot a person without a person pulling the trigger. Those individuals who are intent on taking life or causing harm will do so regardless of the laws in place, or even the availability of guns.

One of the best things about the good old US of A is your RIGHT to have an opinion, or a firearm, or both if you really want them. Any reasonable statistical analysis will show that the 'no guns for anyone' position has no positive outcome on overall or violent crime rates.

And since a previous poster brought it up, lets hit one of the big points that all those scared of guns love to throw out; the higher suicide rate with gun owners. Saying that having guns make a person more likely to commit suicide is pretty easily shot down by looking at a country like Japan. Guns are illegal there, but they have one of the highest suicide rates in the world; so, I ask you, what comes first? The chicken or the egg?

Re:Moderators on drugs? (2, Insightful)

dunkelfalke (91624) | more than 7 years ago | (#17096700)

well, many places in europe (with virtually no legal gun ownership) are in fact much safer than the usa. and the cops aren't that trigger happy either.

that disproves your theory.

I can site obvious and useless statistics too! (2, Insightful)

EveLibertine (847955) | more than 7 years ago | (#17096686)

It's also true that people who own automobiles cause nearly 100% of vehicular manslaughters in this country. Nevertheless, the vast majority of automobile owners do not cause death or injury with their cars.

The point is that getting rid of cars or guns isn't going to solve the problem of people acting irrationally or irresponsibly. Banning is a useless solution because it only treats the symptom and not the problem, and will not cause a decrease in violent activities. People need to be educated so they can find better solutions to resolve their personal problems, or in other cases properly medicated and/or given therapy to resolve their psychological problems.

Re:I can site obvious and useless statistics too! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17096740)

Let's not forget that when you ban something you just ban it from the law abiding population, not the criminal population. So whatever chance you once had to defend yourself is gone. And I too would like to see the GPs reference for that stat.

And before someone says, "if they ban them there won't be any way to get them!" All I have to say to that is... Look at the War on Drugs.

Re:Gun Ownership (1)

triffid_98 (899609) | more than 7 years ago | (#17096736)

Hang on, it looks like you had a typo in your post. Here, let me fix it for you...

It's unregistered gun owners that commit nearly 100% of the murders in this country.

If you outlaw guns, only outlaws will have guns...does that somehow make you feel more safe?

Re:Gun Ownership (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17096754)

Poor soul. What horrific state are you living in that requires registration? The People's Republic of California?

Seriously, though... as far as I'm concerned, 'gun registration' is good for nothing more than providing Them with a list of people to visit when they manage to pass 'that foolish law, or one just like it.'

Re:Gun Ownership (1)

CapitalT (987101) | more than 7 years ago | (#17096772)

Who modded this funny?

This is the most insightful comment in this discussion so far.

What happened to the "Superpredators?" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17096456)

Weren't we supposed to be swamped in them by now like the "academics" and "experts" were howling about back in the mid 1990's? What happened to that? That's why I find "studies" like these to be a load of $hit.

Does not apply outside the prison system? (4, Insightful)

Salvance (1014001) | more than 7 years ago | (#17096464)

This study was done on incarcerated criminals. Even attempting to apply the findings to people outside prisons would be a HUGE mistake. Now if they conducted a similar set of questions on a few thousand randomly selected members of the public and were able to show the same high correlations, that would be a different story entirely.

Re:Does not apply outside the prison system? (2)

Telvin_3d (855514) | more than 7 years ago | (#17096844)

God, can you imagine the liability from that?

"well, we were fairly sure he was going to kill someone, but if we hadn't let it happen we wouldn't know if the test was valid"

heh

Preemption is the wave of the future (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17096478)

If we can preempt a government that at some future date has "high probability" of possessing WMDs, heck, why not do that with people? It will be a brave new world we can live in. Perhaps someday the process will become so good that we can throw newborns into prison and solve all the world's crime. Maybe we can even do this with white-collar crimes. Everybody's financial data, bank transfers, family history, etc, can be used to predict the probability that they launder money. Oh, the ideas keep flowing...

Web version? (2, Funny)

8ball629 (963244) | more than 7 years ago | (#17096498)

I'd like to beta test this on myself ;).

Also, how long will it be before myspace users have this survey on their webpages or is it already there?

Re:Web version? (1)

Argon Sloth (655369) | more than 7 years ago | (#17096544)

Forget you.
I want to see how the various superheroes fare.

Batman in particular.

Re:Web version? (1)

creimer (824291) | more than 7 years ago | (#17096648)

Batman would automatically be considered a psychopath [wikipedia.org] since he defies the political norms of being a survivor instead of being victim, taking the law into his own hands instead of waiting for the wheels of justice to grind slowly, and acting where others would do nothing. If I recall one comic correctly, the psychological establishment declared the Joker more saner than Batman. Go figure.

Woop!! Cluedo v2.0 is out! (1)

bgerlich (1035008) | more than 7 years ago | (#17096504)

"Now suppose I can identify the 10 at highest risk. For that one true positive I now have nine false positives," Berk said, "and that may be something we choose to live with."


Pardon sir but will those nine false positives consider it something they "choose to live with"? The program is hardly worth mentioning, considering there are a thousand and one theories why people do horrible things and this software reflects only one and based on one set of inacurate statistical data only.

Clear indicators. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17096512)

You can imagine the indicators that might incline someone toward violence: youth; having committed a serious crime at an early age; being a man rather than a woman...


Being Bender.

Interesting (1, Insightful)

suv4x4 (956391) | more than 7 years ago | (#17096528)

You can imagine the indicators that might incline someone toward violence: youth; having committed a serious crime at an early age; being a man rather than a woman, and so on. Each, by itself, probably isn't going to make a person pull the trigger. But put them all together and you've got a perfect storm of forces for violence

Is Berk implying that a checklist of questions can make someone pull the trigger?

Well in this case I suppose we have no choice but TO KILL THOSE PEOPLE IN ADVANCE I think! Oops. Well what do you expect, I have "youth" and I am a "man, rather than a woman".

Not good... (1)

chrisxkelley (879631) | more than 7 years ago | (#17096534)

Anyone remember the movie Minority Report? Things didn't end up too well after that was over. I think this is probably a bad idea.

Re:Not good... (1)

SynapseLapse (644398) | more than 7 years ago | (#17096614)

I don't recall any movie.
I do recall an excellent short story. [wikipedia.org]



Actually, I thought the movie, with the exception of the ludicrously stupid eyeball scene, was an excellent adaptation of Phillip K. Dick in general.

Sign me up! (1)

jcarkeys (925469) | more than 7 years ago | (#17096546)

I wanna know what my score is. Think of what sort of a wonderful internet test this can be for MySpacers and other teeny bloggers. "Your homicidal tendency rating is: 76% Postal Worker. While not guaranteed to go berserk and kill a bunch of people, when you do, boy, is it one heck of a story."

Re:Sign me up! (1)

louisadkins (963165) | more than 7 years ago | (#17096726)

Of course, he must have been underfunded and used state of the art technology!

Be careful.... (4, Funny)

djupedal (584558) | more than 7 years ago | (#17096552)

"Do you make up these questions, Mr. Holden? Or do they write 'em down for you?"

"The tortoise lays on its back, its belly baking in the hot sun, beating its legs trying to turn itself over but it can't. Not without your help. But you're not helping."

"WHAT DO YOU MEAN, I'M NOT HELPING?"

"I mean you're not helping! Why is that, Leon?"

Re:Be careful.... (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 7 years ago | (#17096656)

If the test in TFA indicated that I could murder would it at least prove that I was human?

OTH you wouldn't want a person to sit down with a prison inmate and ask them these questions face to face, particularly if the interviewee in question had a handgun under the table, which I suppose is your point.

Re:Be careful.... (1)

djupedal (584558) | more than 7 years ago | (#17096760)

"...you wouldn't want a person to sit down with a prison inmate and ask them these questions face to face"

Inmate, machine, human, whomever - the point is, just be sure to check under the table! :)

These types of profile-determination exams always entertain me. I was with a group of ruffians one night, minding our business as it were, when a pair of local Sheriffs came 'round to see if any of us warranted their interest. They lined all ten of us up and went down the line, one by one...

Cop #1 to Ruffian #1: "Ever been arrested, son?"
Ruffian #1: "Yes, sir, as a matter of fact I have..."

Cop #2: "Really? What for, may I ask"?
Ruffian #1, after a brief pause... "Why, for molesting an officer, of course. I... I hope that isn't going to cause any negativity between us, tho..."

What with us remaining ruffies all stifling laughter, things went pretty much downhill from there, as the officers could only think to draw their weapons and take a step or two backwards :)

Re:Be careful.... (1)

vain gloria (831093) | more than 7 years ago | (#17096818)

Damn, I was really hoping for a clean sweep of "Hey! Does this remind anyone else of Minority Report?" movie-themed posts, but you had to go ruin it with your fancy Voight-Kampf reference. For shame!

SpamAssassin (1)

nacturation (646836) | more than 7 years ago | (#17096558)

So SpamAssassin works this way. Any one criteria (such as from a dynamic IP address) generally isn't enough to consider email spam. You need to have a number of factors contribute both positively and negatively to the final score, after which it's considered spam. But this is for humans. Maybe the software is called PeopleAssassin?
 

Re:SpamAssassin (1)

janekp (972257) | more than 7 years ago | (#17096826)

Probably MurderAssassin

Iraq (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17096562)

Asked which, if any, indicators stood out as reliable predicators of homicide, Berk pointed to one in particular: youthful exposure to violence."
You mean like the 200,000 U.S. troops in Iraq/Afghanistan? (and the millions of Iraqis/Afghans there)

Ultimate integration (1)

Knutsi (959723) | more than 7 years ago | (#17096568)

It's a sweet too tempting not to touch, isn't it... integrate all state records such as police, medicare and school record to allow automatic detection of social care bodies' "insertion points" to better spend resources, and reach out to those who truly need it.

Somehow I fail to see this _not_ happening, quite simply because the smell of efficiency in resource-strained social security systems all around will feel very tempting. As a regular guy, I honestly have no clue if I'm for or againgst this. Help me, Slashdot ;)

The Ying tastes good but not the Yang (2, Interesting)

icecow (764255) | more than 7 years ago | (#17096584)

"70% confident this man will commit murder" = 30% are definately not murderers who will be discriminated against as being a high risk murderer.

"95% confident this man will commit murder" = 5% are definately not murderers who will be discriminated against as being an EXTREMELY high risk murderer.

Cool! A computer program confirms it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17096590)

I carry a concealed handgun, and shoot small furry animals to relieve my frustration. I needed a computer program to tell me I'm likely to kill???

Duh...

OK, turn it loose on... (1)

Guy Harris (3803) | more than 7 years ago | (#17096592)

...these people. [malevole.com]

And yet again (4, Interesting)

TCM (130219) | more than 7 years ago | (#17096632)

...the attempt to solve with technology what can't be solved by technology.

How about having social workers that deserve that job title? Do we soon replace all judgment on humans and human interaction with computers'?

It is this very dehumanization that causes violence among humans in the first place. How long until someone is flagged by this and it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy because he feels trapped?

This whole anti-social project shouldn't even have started. What a waste.

Re:And yet again (1)

Sargeant Slaughter (678631) | more than 7 years ago | (#17096730)

Totally agree. This kind of program would force social workers to focus on the numbers and shrug off any statistical deviation which will undoubtedly occur.

When a certain group of people is labeled, the live up to that label. Not only that, but in my experience, when someone who is screwed up starts getting the attention of the government, they feed off it and usually get worse.

Before you commit a homicide (1, Funny)

suv4x4 (956391) | more than 7 years ago | (#17096638)

has worked with authorities to develop a software tool that predicts who will commit homicide.

Don't forget the best practices for committing a homicide:

1. Commit often and early, to prevent victim escape.

2. Copycat homicide is cheap, so don't be afraid to branch existing homicides, if you feel you need to.

3. While committing a homicide, always write down a full log of what happened, and put it with it with body (or bodies). This won't just help the cops get oriented, but also to yourself when you come back to the crime scene, say, an year later.

This already happens.... (3, Informative)

robot5x (1035276) | more than 7 years ago | (#17096662)

actually there are many tools like this already in existence... modern probation work has been scientificalised and statisticalised to the extent that you can't do anything with an offender until you know what their various scores are. In the UK the risk of general reconviction is calculated statistically in the OGRS programme based on age, conviction, prison sentences etc. (http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/probation1.html [homeoffice.gov.uk] ) . This also produces a level of risk that that person will commit a violent offence. There are other specialist tools for domestic violence - the Spousal Assault Risk Assessment which is a 20 item checklist. Also, for sex offenders their risk of reconviction is assessed by using the Thornton Risk Matrix 2000. Every offender who comes into the probation system also has an OASys assessment completed on them - which asks the assessor to score factors from 14 different areas such as accommodation, lifestyle, substance misuse etc. (http://www.probation.homeoffice.gov.uk/files/pdf/ Info%20for%20sentencers%203.pdf [homeoffice.gov.uk] ).

Re:This already happens.... (1)

aibob (1035288) | more than 7 years ago | (#17096794)

The article essentially says as much:

Initial research suggests the software-based system can make it 40 times more likely for caseworkers to accurately predict future lethality than they can using current practices. [emphasis added]
Caseworkers have to decide which of the convicted felons assigned to them are the ones that need the most attention. I would argue that - whether you're worried more about reoffense (false negatives) or discriminating against innocents (false positives) - it is clearly better to have repeatable, verifiable procedures in place to decide who gets the attention and who doesn't than to always leave it to a hunch. If the system is verifably and significantly more accurate than current practice, all the better.

In Sweden they discovered that (1)

MichailS (923773) | more than 7 years ago | (#17096670)

there was a high incidence of people in jail with a first name ending with y.

Thing is, among certain working class demographics, it was popular to name boys things like "Conny", "Ronny", "Johnny", "Tony", "Tommy" and so on. Presumably mostly a generation fashion wave of sorts.

And men stemming from that population were more inclined to do violence, since (as popular prejudice indicates) such families were not uncommonly abusive, alcoholic and peers to criminals.

Eerie.

This is of course not saying that all people named "Conny" are criminal. Only that statistically, guys named Conny are more likely to be in jail than guys named Torbjörn.

Re:In Sweden they discovered that (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17096762)

in arab they found that anyone with the name 'Ben' in the center of their name is most likely a killer. And will most likely do it only once because they are all kamikazes. In an unrelated research all those without the name 'ben' in the center are likely to be killed. So if your name is 'Ali ben Abu' you'r a killer and if your name is 'Ben Assfleck' you're gonna be killed

Probation: People are missing something here... (5, Insightful)

Llywelyn (531070) | more than 7 years ago | (#17096682)

"This will help stratify our caseload and target our resources to the most dangerous people," probation department director of research Ellen Kurtz said

Emphasis added.

This is being used by people who have already been tried, convicted, and sentenced and are being monitored and required to check in anyways. The model, further, was derived from the probation system (not from those already in jail):

"Using probation department cases entered into the system between 2002 and 2004, Berk and his colleagues performed a two-year follow-up study - enough time, they theorized, for a person to reoffend if he was going to."

This is just being used to help parole officers decide how to allocate their caseload. That's a Good Thing(TM). No one seems to be talking about applying it to society in a minority report fashion, and while such a harebrained scheme may eventually be table, it needs to be evaluated independently of whether it is a good idea for parole officers deciding how to allocate limited resources.

they forgot one (1)

nude-fox (981081) | more than 7 years ago | (#17096694)

working in retail

Convicts applying spam tactics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17096702)

Say i score really high and is considered a super-menace.
Would it be possible to confuse the system by starting with something that is "-5 points", like knitting?

FrosT p1st (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17096710)

New core is Goin6 fucking percent of

Something similar (2, Interesting)

denoir (960304) | more than 7 years ago | (#17096774)

There is a similar thing on this site [peltarion.com] showing how to predict which police cadets would become good cops and which would become bad cops. It's some form of neural net tutorial, but the conclusions are (at least to me) remarkable:

We can with 96.55% confidence say that a graduating cadet will be failing at his job in five years and we can with 99.17% confidence say that a graduating cadet will be performing an adequate job five years in the future.

I'm actually a probation officer (5, Funny)

goldcd (587052) | more than 7 years ago | (#17096784)

and tried a couple of similar package before. They're all snakeoil.
Nothing can replace years of professional practice and the ability to analyze the bumps on a perps skull.

In other news lately... (4, Informative)

kan0r (805166) | more than 7 years ago | (#17096816)

Scotland Yard agrees:

It looks like Scotland Yard [timesonline.co.uk] is also looking for scary new tactics in fighting crime. The latest idea of Laura Richards, head of analysis of the Metropolitan Police's Homicide Prevention Unit, sounds like a strangely familiar concept to those who have seen Minority Report. She aims to create a database of people who could supposedly commit a crime in the future, based on their psychological profile.

Even though preventing crimes is a noble motivation, this idea raises serious privacy issues.

As a sidemark it should be mentioned that Laura Richard also seems to be part of the team that "revealed" Jack the Ripper's face some time ago.

this software is dangerous (1)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 7 years ago | (#17096828)

All this will do, is distract the case worker from seeing whats right infront of them. software is not the answer to everything.

They shouldn't use software (1)

bytesex (112972) | more than 7 years ago | (#17096838)

They should use the predictive capability of markets instead. Set up a little in-prison pool of money on who might kill; whoever trades highest, is most likely to kill at a given moment. It'll work great !
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