Re: Hitachi says it can predict crimes before they happen

[Note:  This comment comes from friend Andrew Odlyzko.  Take note of this story from August, where NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton claims that the world depicted in ‘Minority Report’ already exists and that the NYPD plans to be a leader in ‘predictive policing’: <>  DLH]

Date: September 30, 2015 at 12:37:26 EDT
To: Hendricks Dewayne <>
Subject: Re: [Dewayne-Net] Hitachi says it can predict crimes before they happen


This is ludicrous hype from Hitachi.

There is some progress in the area of predictive policing (which
means not “predicting crimes,” but identifying promising targets
for police intervention.  For a balanced evaluation of the state
of the art as of two years ago (and improvements in the intervening
period do not appear to be dramatic), take a look at the Rand report,
“Predictive policing: The role of crime forecasting in law enforcement


Best regards,

Hitachi says it can predict crimes before they happen


By Amy X. Wang


Sep 29 2015





Re: Hitachi says it can predict crimes before they happen

[Note:  This comment comes from a reader of Dave Farber’s IP List.  DLH]

From: “Synthesis:Law and Technology Law and Technology” <>
Date: Sep 30, 2015 11:45 AM
Subject: Re: [IP] Hitachi says it can predict crimes before they happen
To: “David Farber” <>


This is more than a little scary, and not just because I thought Minority Report was a scary movie.
“As for the second, Hitachi execs say the system may actually reduce the amount of biased police profiling, since it equips officers with enough thorough information that they won’t need to act on mere suspicions.”

How could this possibly be anything other than a mere suspicion?  it is just replacing human suspicion (known to be fallible) with computer algorithmic suspicion (unproven but given the sheen of presumed authenticity).

This is really really really bad use of technology and not just for the harm potential.  For those looking to save money or increase return on investment in police services just consider the value of a single wrong “suspicion” in terms of false accusations and missing the real bad actors somewhere else.  Both scenarios are huge targets for lawsuits with deep pocket defendands (the cities and the vendor) and massive uncertainty for years.  With human policing making decisions the standard in most jurisdictions is akin to gross negligence  –  you are allowed to make a mistake once in a while.  when you put a computer into the mix, any reliance on it gets to judged differently because the choice to use it implies an evaluation of the forseeable consequences of errors.  What is forseeable unless the Hitachi system is pre-proved to be error-free ?
Pretty much every error is forseeable.

Dan Steinberg

SYNTHESIS:Law & Technology
45 Helene-Duval     phone: (613) 794-5356
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Hitachi says it can predict crimes before they happen


By Amy X. Wang


Sep 29 2015




Study: White people deny their privilege even when confronted with proof

Study: White people deny their privilege even when confronted with proof

By Kerry A. Dolan
Sep 29 2015

In the past year, the killings of unarmed black men by police officers, as well as a mass shooting in a black church in South Carolina, have garnered enormous media attention. The shootings have become touch points in a larger discussion about race relations and racial bias in the United States. Amid the dialogue are references to the privileges that white Americans enjoy solely because of their race.

But in a new study, Stanford researchers found that on an individual level, whites do not think that the privileges extend to them.

The research by L. Taylor Phillips, a PhD student at Stanford Graduate School of Business, and Brian Lowery, the Walter Kenneth Kilpatrick Professor of Organizational Behavior at Stanford GSB, found that whites exposed to evidence of racial privilege responded by claiming their own personal hardships. Those surveyed didn’t deny the existence of racial privileges held by whites as a group, they just came up with other reasons—namely, personal obstacles—why they should be considered differently from that overall group.

How does Lowery explain this? He says, “You like to have nice things. But you don’t want to think you got those things as a result of unearned advantages.” People feel better about what they have if they believe they have earned those things as a result of hard work, not via birthright. So denying built-in advantages is essentially a form of self-protection.

Plenty of studies have documented that white Americans have numerous advantages: greater lifetime earnings, longer life expectancies and better access to healthcare and quality education than blacks do. Phillips and Lowery say that despite the persistence of racial privilege in America, “policymakers and power brokers continue to debate whether racial privilege even exists and whether to address such inequity.”

The study attempts to answer a hypothesis about why this is so: Perhaps those in power aren’t moved to change the status quo because they are unwilling to acknowledge racial privilege even exists. “This acknowledgement … may be difficult given that Whites are motivated to believe that meritocratic systems and personal virtues determine life outcomes,” the authors write.

In their research, published in July in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, Phillips and Lowery conducted two principal experiments. In the first experiment, they surveyed 185 white people online, using Amazon’s Mechanical Turk. The first group read a paragraph about white advantages in American society and then took two surveys, one on beliefs about inequality in America and the second about childhood memories, which contained questions about life hardships. The second group did not read about racial privilege before answering the same two surveys. “In both experiments, we found that Whites exposed to evidence of White privilege claimed more hardships than those not exposed to evidence of privilege,” the authors wrote in the study.

There is another possible explanation for these results, says Lowery: “If you go to a poor country, you wouldn’t wear expensive jewelry. In certain situations, it’s not smart to flaunt.” Put in the context of racial privilege: Whites might not want to display their advantages to others.

Still, a second experiment showed that whites can become more comfortable with their privileged status. The researchers found that when whites in the study were asked to complete a self-affirming exercise before taking a survey on American inequality, they would not claim to have undergone personal hardships to the degree that the first group had.

The 106 whites were asked to rank 12 values provided to them and explain what was important about their highest-ranked value. A second group of 128 people were not given this “affirmation” exercise. Participants from both groups were randomly assigned to take similar surveys given in the first experiment—about belief in inequality and about childhood memories; the latter group had mixed in questions about their experiences of hardship, their belief that they personally benefit from privilege, and their support for affirmative action.

Those who went through the affirmation exercise “expressed a significantly higher belief in personal privilege than did those who were not affirmed,” the authors wrote. This same group also tended to be more supportive of affirmative action policies.

“We show you can turn off the ‘denial’ effect,” Phillips says. “The self-affirmation task helps people reduce their feelings of defensiveness,” which makes them more open to acknowledging their own privilege.

This piece was originally published by Stanford Business and is republished with permission. Follow them @StanfordBiz.

Re: Hitachi says it can predict crimes before they happen


New Hitachi Visualization Suite 4.5 With Predictive Crime Analytics and Hitachi Video Management Platform Advance Support for Public Safety Initiatives for Law Enforcement and First Responder Agencies

ANAHEIM, CA– September 28, 2015 – Hitachi Data Systems Corporation (HDS), a wholly owned subsidiary of Hitachi, Ltd. (TSE: 6501), today announced new enhancements to its Hitachi Visualization solution portfolio: Hitachi Visualization Suite 4.5 now with Hitachi Visualization Predictive Crime Analytics (PCA) and Hitachi Video Management Platform (VMP) 2.0. PCA is the first tool of its kind to use real-time social media and Internet data feeds together with unique, sophisticated analytics to gather intelligent insight and enhance public safety through the delivery of highly accurate crime predictions. Hitachi Visualization is part of the Hitachi Social Innovation solutions that support smart city programs, and is specifically designed to advance the public safety initiatives of cities and municipalities through the application of predictive and advanced analytics and improved access to video data. The news was announced today from the ASIS International Annual Seminar and Exhibits in Anaheim, California, where Hitachi Visualization PCA is on display. Attendees can visit Booth #975 for a hands-on demonstration and more information.

Public safety and the protection of people, property and infrastructure is a foundation of smart cities and societies,” said Ruthbea Yesner Clarke, director of global smart cities research at IDC. “Digital technologies, like those from Hitachi Data Systems, that provide real-time, aggregate and contextual data, support public safety initiatives that can transform how law enforcement and other first responder agencies locate, mitigate and prevent crimes, and ultimately make our cities safer places.”

Hitachi Visualization software and hardware systems are purpose-built to help public and private entities accelerate extraction of rich, actionable insights from all of their data sources. The solutions are part of Hitachi’s Social Innovation solutions portfolio, which is committed to the development of smart societies that are safer, healthier and more efficient, while delivering better business outcomes for its customers. The latest advancements include:

Hitachi Visualization Suite 4.5: Newly Enhanced With Predictive Crime Analytics
Hitachi Visualization Suite (HVS) is a hybrid cloud-based platform that integrates disparate data and video assets from public safety systems—911 computer-aided dispatch, license plate readers, gunshot sensors, and so on—in real time and presents them geospatially. HVS provides law enforcement with critical insight to improve intelligence, enhance investigative capabilities and increase operational efficiencies. Along with capturing real-time event data from sensors, HVS now offers the ability to provide geospatial visualizations for historical crime data in several forms, including heat maps. This feature is available in the Hitachi Visualization Predictive Crime Analytics (PCA) add-on module of the new Hitachi Visualization Suite 4.5 software release.

Blending real-time event data captured from public safety systems and sensors with historical and contextual crime data from record management systems, social media and other sources, PCA’s powerful spatial and temporal prediction algorithms help law enforcement and first responder teams assign threat levels for every city block. The algorithms can also be used to create threat level predictions to accurately forecast where crimes are likely to occur or additional resources are likely to be needed. PCA is unique in that it provides users with a better understanding of the underlying risk factors that generate or mitigate crime. It is the first predictive policing tool that uses natural language processing for topic intensity modeling using social media networks together with other public and private data feeds in real time to deliver highly accurate crime predictions.

Hitachi Video Management Platform: Comprehensive Management for All Your Video Data
The new Video Management Platform (VMP) is an appliance-based solution that offers rich data integration, management and visualization for video applications powered by VMware software. Using Hitachi-supported hardware and designed to deliver a set-it-and-forget-it user experience, VMP provides a turnkey, end-to-end video management solution that is both highly scalable and redundant, separating storage from compute to give users on-demand access to and rapid deployment of video assets. VMP supports every major video management software supplier to simplify storage and compute of all types of video data.


Hitachi says it can predict crimes before they happen

[Note:  This item comes from friend David Isenberg.  DLH]

Hitachi says it can predict crimes before they happen
By Amy X. Wang
Sep 29 2015

What if the future of law enforcement doesn’t involve faster, more forceful responses to crime—but rather, a surefire way to predict it?

Hitachi, the Japanese tech giant that makes everything from elevators to security systems, seems to have faith in the latter. It announced today (Sept. 29) that it’s developed a robust new technology that can pinpoint where and when a crime will occur. The system, called Hitachi Visualization Predictive Crime Analytics, gobbles massive amounts of data—from public transit maps, social media conversations, weather reports, and more—and uses machine learning to find patterns that humans can’t pick out.

“A human just can’t handle when you get to the tens or hundreds of variables that could impact crime,” Darrin Lipscomb, an executive in Hitachi’s Public Safety and Visualization division, told Fast Company. Mark Jules, another executive, said that police officers usually build crime-prediction models based on their personal or collective experience—but the Hitachi system doesn’t need anyone to fiddle around with correlations and variable weights. Given a heap of data, it does it by itself.

The system can specify potential crime scenes down to a 200-square-meter spot, and it assigns relative threat levels to every situation.

Hitachi’s system, which the company plans to put into a trial run at police departments in a handful of unspecified cities starting in October, raises two major concerns: 1) How accurate will the system be, and 2) What if the system unfairly profiles and targets innocent people as criminals?

Addressing the first, the company promises to make all its trial results public, so people can decide for themselves.

As for the second, Hitachi execs say the system may actually reduce the amount of biased police profiling, since it equips officers with enough thorough information that they won’t need to act on mere suspicions.

The Big Secret That Makes the FBI’s Anti-Encryption Campaign a Big Lie

The Big Secret That Makes the FBI’s Anti-Encryption Campaign a Big Lie
By Jenna McLaughlin
Sep 28 2015

To hear FBI Director James Comey tell it, strong encryption stops law enforcement dead in its tracks by letting terrorists, kidnappers and rapists communicate in complete secrecy.

But that’s just not true.

In the rare cases in which an investigation may initially appear to be blocked by encryption — and so far, the FBI has yet to identify a single one — the government has a Plan B: it’s called hacking.

Hacking — just like kicking down a door and looking through someone’s stuff — is a perfectly legal tactic for law enforcement officers, provided they have a warrant.

And law enforcement officials have, over the years, learned many ways to install viruses, Trojan horses, and other forms of malicious code onto suspects’ devices. Doing so gives them the same access the suspects have to communications — before they’ve been encrypted, or after they’ve been unencrypted.

Government officials don’t like talking about it — quite possibly because hacking takes considerably more effort than simply asking a telecom provider for records. Robert Litt, general counsel to the Director of National Intelligence, recently referred to potential government hacking as a process of “slow uncertain one-offs.”

But they don’t deny it, either. Hacking is “an avenue to consider and discuss,” Amy Hess, the assistant executive director of the FBI’s Science and Technology branch, said at an encryption debate earlier this month.

The FBI “routinely identifies, evaluates, and tests potential exploits in the interest of cyber security,” bureau spokesperson Christopher Allen wrote in an email.

Hacking In Action

There are still only a few publicly known cases of government hacking, but they include examples of phishing, “watering hole” websites, and physical tampering.

Phishing involves an attacker masquerading as a trustworthy website or service and luring a victim with an email message asking the person to click on a link or update sensitive information.


Why some scientists are worried about a cold ‘blob’ in the North Atlantic Ocean

[Note:  This item comes from friend Janos Gereben.  DLH]

Why some scientists are worried about a cold ‘blob’ in the North Atlantic Ocean
By Chris Mooney
Sep 24 2015

It is, for our home planet, an extremely warm year.

Indeed, last week we learned from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration that the first eight months of 2015 were the hottest such stretch yet recorded for the globe’s surface land and oceans, based on temperature records going back to 1880. It’s just the latest evidence that we are, indeed, on course for a record-breaking warm year in 2015.

Yet, if you look closely, there’s one part of the planet that is bucking the trend. In the North Atlantic Ocean south of Greenland and Iceland, the ocean surface has seen very cold temperatures for the past eight months. What’s up with that?

First of all, it’s no error. I checked with Deke Arndt, chief of the climate monitoring branch at NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information, who confirmed what the map above suggests — some parts of the North Atlantic Ocean saw record cold in the past eight months. As Arndt put it by email:

For the grid boxes in darkest blue, they had their coldest Jan-Aug on record, and in order for a grid box to be “eligible” for that map, it needs at least 80 years of Jan-Aug values on the record.

Those grid boxes encompass the region from “20W to 40W and from 55N to 60N,” Arndt explained.

And there’s not much reason to doubt the measurements — the region is very well sampled. “It’s pretty densely populated by buoys, and at least parts of that region are really active shipping lanes, so there’s quite a lot of observations in the area,” Arndt said. “So I think it’s pretty robust analysis.”

Thus, the record seems to be a meaningful one — and there is a much larger surrounding area that, although not absolutely the coldest it has been on record, is also unusually cold.

At this point, it’s time to ask what the heck is going on here. And while there may not yet be any scientific consensus on the matter, at least some scientists suspect that the cooling seen in these maps is no fluke but, rather, part of a process that has been long feared by climate researchers — the slowing of Atlantic Ocean circulation.

In March, several top climate scientists, including Stefan Rahmstorf of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and Michael Mann of Penn State, published a paper in Nature Climate Change suggesting that the gigantic ocean current known as the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation, or AMOC, is weakening. It’s sometimes confused with the “Gulf Stream,” but, in fact, that’s just a southern branch of it.

The current is driven by differences in the temperature and salinity of ocean water (for a more thorough explanation, see here). In essence, cold salty water in the North Atlantic sinks because it is more dense, and warmer water from farther south moves northward to take its place, carrying tremendous heat energy along the way. But a large injection of cold, fresh water can, theoretically, mess it all up — preventing the sinking that would otherwise occur and, thus, weakening the circulation.

In the Nature Climate Change paper, the researchers suggested that this source of freshwater is the melting of Greenland, which is now losing more than a hundred billion tons of ice each year.


Leaders’ climate change pledges fall far short of ‘safe’ target, report finds

Leaders’ climate change pledges fall far short of ‘safe’ target, report finds
Sep 28 2015

Ahead of a crucial round of United Nations climate change negotiations that begin in less than two months, a new analysis shows that world leaders’ climate plans still fall well short of what scientists say needs to be done to avoid potentially devastating climate change impacts. 

Such impacts may include collapsing ice sheets — which would raise sea levels so high that the world’s largest coastal cities, from Shanghai to New York, could be threatened — to the likely extinction of countless species in sensitive but ecologically rich areas such as the tropical rainforests and coral reefs of the world.

The analysis from MIT and Climate Interactive examines emissions reduction pledges offered so far, which will likely be incorporated into a new climate treaty when negotiators convene in Paris beginning on Nov. 30. The report, released Monday, finds that these pledges would only reduce the magnitude of global warming by about 1 degree Celsius, or 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit, through the year 2100. 

This would mean that instead of being on track to experience a likely warming of 8.1 degrees Fahrenheit, or 4.5 degrees Celsius, compared to preindustrial levels, the world may instead see global average temperatures climb by 6.3 degrees Fahrenheit, or 3.5 degrees Celsius. (The range of uncertainty in the analysis is from 3.7 to 8.4 degrees Fahrenheit.)

To get a sense for how significant this warming would be, consider that to date, global average surface temperatures have increased on the order of about 0.85 degrees Celsius, or 1.53 degrees Fahrenheit, since 1880. And this has been enough to reshape the planet, melting huge swaths of Arctic sea ice, setting in motion potentially irreversible melting in portions of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, and setting the stage for an accelerating rise in sea levels. 

In addition, there is increasing evidence that trends in extreme weather events, such as heat waves and flash floods, are tied to manmade global warming as well.

A whopping 13 of the world’s 15 warmest years have occurred during the past 15 years, and 2015 has at least a 97% chance of setting a new world high temperature record, according to a recent report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Need for a “ratchet mechanism”

So far, 63 countries have submitted their emissions reduction pledges to the U.N., including the top two polluters of greenhouse gases, the U.S. and China, as well as major developing countries including Brazil and Indonesia. It is expected that India, another top emitter and key roadblock in past climate talks, will submit its pledge on Oct. 1. 

Such pledges are known in U.N. parlance as “Intended Nationally Determined Contributions,” or INDCs, and they will form the bedrock of the Paris agreement.

The new analysis reveals that while the emissions reduction pledges made so far would have a tangible influence on the future climate, more ambitious action would need to take place in addition to the Paris pledges if global warming is to be limited more significantly.

“With the current INDCs, we’ve made progress, and our analysis shows that with further action following the Paris negotiations we can keep warming below 2°C. The current barriers are political and social and, we believe, can be overcome,” said Andrew Jones of Climate Interactive, in a press release.

While the report revealed a startlingly wide gap between committed actions and what would be necessary to meet the 2 degree Celsius target, the fact that such a gap exists is not exactly news to policy makers, though. 

Even the top U.N. climate official, Christiana Figueres, has acknowledged that the emissions pledges currently on the table going into the Paris talks are not sufficient to hold global warming below the target agreed to at previous U.N. climate meetings.


The Future of the Darknet: 9 Critically Important Predictions

The Future of the Darknet: 9 Critically Important Predictions
By Thomas Frey
Sep 14 2015

Have you ever run across a situation so frustrating that you wished you could hire a “fixer?”

Maybe it has to do with gangs moving into your neighborhood, or the local slumlord not willing to repair a dangerous situation, or a local politician taking bribes, or finding out that your husband is also married to someone else in another state.

My guess is that we’ve all run into problems that are outside of our ability to deal with and we need help. But the help we need is not the normal kind. We don’t have millions to throw at lawyers and we don’t have the time, patience, or resources to go though official channels.

Well, there may be another option, but it will involve you going over to the dark side… of the Internet.

The darknet, often referred to as the dark web, is the place where less-scrupulous people offer less-scrupulous solutions.

If you think I’m talking about murder-for-hire, you’re missing the 10,000 other possible intermediary steps involving everything from public shaming, to social media faux pas, fake IRS notices, identity corruption, denial of service attacks, or worst of all, frivolous lawsuits designed to meter out your own form of justice in unusually creative ways.

While this may sound like the latest episode of the TV show “Leverage,” new toolsets available on the darknet are enabling us to operate far outside traditional recourse with total anonymity.

Whether it’s whistleblowing, dissident protests, news leaks, or simple revenge, neither the perpetrator nor the implementer of the service will wish to be identified, but somehow the results justify the extraordinary measures taken.

Welcome to the dark side of the Internet where the grey areas of justice come in far more than 50 shades.

Commonly thought of as a “mafia marketplace” where illegal drugs are bought and sold, and human trafficking, child porn, and contract killings make all the headlines, the dark net is growing in its appeal with far less offensive offerings catering to a more mainstream audience.

Even though this tends to be an experimental playground for the dregs of society who manage to skirt the law with impunity, it’s unleashing some critically important innovations in the process.

Here’s why the benefits of the darknet will soon outweigh the downside, and nine significant predictions for the future.


Rephone lets you hack a cellular radio into anything

Rephone lets you hack a cellular radio into anything
Give a dog a phone
By Dieter Bohn
Sep 27 2015

Yesterday at the Maker Faire in New York, we had a chance to check out the Rephone, a clever little project that comprises a bunch of modules that let you cobble together your own tiny little cell phone. Actually, making a cute little cardboard-encased phone is the least interesting thing aboutt the Rephone kit. The group behind it, Seeed Studio, has made dozens of modules and an SDK that enables you to build out nearly any sort of cellular-based gadget you can imagine. They’ve strapped it on a dog collar so you can locate your dog (or just call him to come home). They’ve strapped it to a kite to provide you with real-time telemetry. They’ve strapped it to a door, a lamp, and (uh), a table.

The project launched on Kickstarter last week and has already blown past its modest goal of of $50,000. That goal was probably so modest because Seeed already has a ton of experience making these little modules. The company is based in Shenzhen and has “been providing open source modules to makers for almost 7 years,” Seeed’s Eric Pan says. Rephone’s modules and SDK will also be open sourced.

Put a radio on it is the new put a bird on it

The center of the Rephone kit is a tiny little module with GSM and Bluetooth Low Energy radios. It takes a nano-SIM card, and Pan says that Seeed may consider doing something with 3G or LTE in a future version. But for the functions that you’ll probably want to use Rephone for, you won’t really need it. “If you just want to unlock a door or turn on a lamp, 2G is good enough,” says Pan. Plug in a prepaid SIM card (paying for for an extra line from AT&T seems like overkill), and you can control it with data or sms.

If you just want to play around with making your own tiny phone, the kit comes with all the parts you need to do it, including a tiny little touchscreen and a cardboard enclosure you tie up with thread.