Is the Tom Cruise starrer science fiction coming to real life? Companies are attempting to develop technology like AI powered humanoid bots and infrastructure to upgrade the system efficiency.

As we saw in the futuristic movie; the concept of predicting a crime before it has happened and to then build a defensive system strong enough to counteract it. All this sounds very cool and impossible. But with the developing technology it’s very near to achieve it. The utility of a technology which can predict the course of events before they happen has a drastic impact in practical application for healthcare and policing.

To prevent a crime or preemptively fight back against a morbid disease is the perfect culmination of what human intelligence expertise is about.

Who’s in the race?

Arguably the biggest tech giants in the world right now, Google and Microsoft are rapidly working towards infrastructure which can give legacy system a run for its money. It appears that Tom Cruise using air gestures to copy, paste and select may soon be a practical option for a lot of us. Google is actively working in this field to “avoid the buttons”. CEO Sundar Pichai has laid down an ambitious plan towards creating holograms and sensor based control panel which can detect human motion and follow commands. The computers get training with the help of Machine Learning. Specific instructions are uploaded to the core system. Based on them possible actions and their outcomes are calculated in advance.

Project Soli, as termed by Google, is currently working on development of this technology in full throttle mode. The FCC has granted approval to the project’s administration showing full support. Google has a dedicated Advanced Technology and Projects Lab (ATAP) for which it has been seeking national and international approval. With FCC’s recent action in Google’s favour it is likely that the thought of technology may soon be a reality. According to FCC, a service like such in greater public’s interest as it will bring innovation to technology and improve the general life standards.

Find more on this ruling here.

Law and Enforcement

A UK police group is allegedly using a comprehensive computer system which has a database of data acquired by bodies like NHS, social services, employers, and educational sector. The worth of this computer is estimated to be a whopping £48 million. Amid the ethical concerns being raised by the civil society and the apparent loopholes in the algorithm or data behind this computer, the police will have a hard time to fully adopt this technology as a replacement to their legacy infrastructure.

A spokesperson in conversation with Daily Mail has said that the idea behind project is not to create a centralised database for law enforcement. There are definite access levels in place. No police officer will be given access to any sort of data without a legitimate reason by an authority. With all bureaucratic hurdles in place, it is yet to determine whether computational policing will be speedy enough.

Microsoft may be working towards creating a similar platform but without error. Unlike Google, there is no proof-of-concept available yet. The announcement itself was done during a podcast which never really got any attention.

According to a rep, it’s the software which is the main element that has the ability to predict the future. The idea is to machine study the historical records of all criminals and jail inmates. Based on these computational figures or “predictions” are created that how likely someone is to become a repeat offender, or who may require surveillance. Microsoft has previously introduced a successful prediction-based software. It was in the shape of the popular video game “Halo”. In the game it could predict a player’s next move based on previous interactions.

Backlash

While this seems like a dream come true for police forces, it has driven a lot of criticism from society. Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning processes are still not 100% accurate. Because of this do not see active and large scale AI powered processes in Finance, Healthcare, Education and Defence. Due to sensitive nature, the critics have argued that a minor flaw in the system could lead to severe results. Expecting to a huge degree of collateral damage for trial of prediction software it still remains a controversial topic.

Microsoft has been proven to be ambitious in the past with its move towards AI powered programs. With the Windows 10 hand gesture API, this ambition was truly seen in a practical shape. Though due to technical fallout it was never made public. Despite the hold-up, more is expected to come from the company.

As world is moving towards futuristic technology, the debate of ethical versus unethical use is relevant than ever.

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