Remember those weird floating “precog” psychics in the movie Minority Report? They could foresee crimes before they even happened, allowing law enforcement to prevent them from ever becoming a reality. While that kind of sci-fi foreknowledge will almost certainly never exist, scientists are working on an eerily similar system that uses cameras and artificial intelligence — a system that they hope will be able to “see” crimes before they even occur.
Declan McCullagh over at CNET recently spoke to scientists behind the effort, and writes,
[Researcher Alessandro] Oltramari and fellow researcher Christian Lebiere say automatic video surveillance can monitor camera feeds for suspicious activities like someone at an airport or bus station abandoning a bag for more than a few minutes. “In this specific case, the goal for our system would have been to detect the anomalous behavior,” Oltramari says.
Think of it as a much, much smarter version of a red light camera: the unblinking eye of computer software that monitors dozens or even thousands of security camera feeds could catch illicit activities that human operators […] would miss.
The camera will be able to distinguish humans from their surroundings, and then predict the most likely physical trajectories the individuals will take. When the camera decides that a person is about to do something that raises a red flag, the system would notify security personnel to stop the action from happening.
It’s a bit — okay, more than a bit — disconcerting, but imagine the impact this kind of technology could have on certain types of photography…
Image credits: Photo illustration based on movie still by Dreamworks/20th Century Fox, research illustrations by Carnegie Mellon University