Body cams are an important feature of a police officer's uniform these days. Well not surprisingly, these are going to start being equipped with AI-technology like everything else. Taser, the large police equipment manufacturer, is building this new setup that will make policing even more like the movie "Minority Report."
Taser's AI division is developing cams that feature facial search and recognition capabilities. This will hopefully make it easier to spot likely perpetrators and eliminate confusion when arresting. Prior to this, Taser was best known for its electrical weapons, you know... tasers. The move comes after Taser announced their acquisition of two video-recognition software firms combining to form Taser's new AI team. Like Google's search engine algorithm Rankbrain, this technology is machine-learning—this brings forth a new set of concerns though.
While many are applauding this a move towards better, more precise policing, others are concerned about potential violations of privacy and civil rights. They could become effective surveillance tools for identifying certain people or objects in real-time, but the key will lie in their ability to differentiate between guilty and innocent parties.
Where this technology will shine is in the area of research. No longer will it take hours to sift through video footage from these cameras to determine the content they captured. The trained algorithms will already know where to look and who/what to look for, we hope.
Taser CEO Rick Smith said in a live webcast that the company wants to expand their capabilities into a type of AI "personal secretary" for police officers, helping to alleviate much of the paperwork burden that cops experience on a constant basis. "Police officers are spending most of their time entering information into computers" said Smith. "We want to automate all of that."
Striking a balance between automation and human judgement is key. The concern with AI has always been the possibility of replacing humans outright. As long as officers are allowed to exercise sound judgement when needed, this invention could be a massive improvement for the law enforcement community, and the civilian communities they patrol.
This technology could surely lead to instant background checks, helping officers identify suspects quickly and effortlessly. It might also have the ability to transcribe audio and index subject names, but that's a little down the road as well. We will see how this roll-out unfolds and monitor whether policing stats are effected in any way.