Holman Jenkins wrote an interesting piece in today’s Wall Street Journal about how big data could possibly be useful in preventing mass shootings.
Hitachi, the big Japanese company, began testing its crime-prediction software in several unnamed American cities this month. The project, called Hitachi Visualization Predictive Crime Analytics, culls crime records, map and transit data, weather reports, social media and other sources for patterns that might otherwise go unnoticed by police.
Jenkins notes that privacy wars will have to be fought, but at some point the public has to understand that big data works by employing completely impersonal algorithms. They don’t care about your most embarrassing moments but only about surfacing information that might be useful in dealing with or preventing crime.
I’m all in favor of utilizing such tools; I’ll gladly give up some of my privacy (which I do not consider the same thing as giving up my freedom) in exchange for a kinder, gentler, safer world.