Welcome To The Technological Incarceration Project, Where Prison Walls Are Replaced By Sensors, Algorithms, And AI
from the shocking-new-approach dept
At heart, a prison is a place where freedom is taken away, and inmates are constrained in what they can do. Does that mean a prison has to consist of a special building with bars and prison guards? How about turning the home of a convicted criminal into a kind of virtual prison, where they are limited in their actions? That’s what Dan Hunter, dean of Swinburne University’s Law School in Melbourne, suggests, reported here by Australian Broadcast News:
Called the Technological Incarceration Project, the idea is to make not so much an internet of things as an internet of incarceration.
Professor Hunter’s team is researching an advanced form of home detention, using artificial intelligence, machine-learning algorithms and lightweight electronic sensors to monitor convicted offenders on a 24-hour basis.
The idea is to go beyond today’s electronic tagging systems, which provide a relatively crude and sometimes circumventable form of surveillance, to one that is pervasive, intelligent — and shockingly painful:
Under his team’s proposal, offenders would be fitted with an electronic bracelet or anklet capable of delivering an incapacitating shock if an algorithm detects that a new crime or violation is about to be committed.
That assessment would be made by a combination of biometric factors, such as voice recognition and facial analysis.
Leaving aside the obvious and important issue of how reliable the algorithms would be in judging when a violation was about to take place, there are a couple of other aspects of this approach worth noting. One is that it shifts the costs of incarceration from the state to the offender, who ends up paying for his or her upkeep in the virtual prison. That would obviously appeal to those who are concerned about the mounting cost to taxpayers of running expensive prisons. The virtual prison would also allow offenders to remain with their family, and thus offers the hope that they might be re-integrated into society more easily than when isolated in an unnatural prison setting. Irrespective of any possible financial benefits, that has to be a good reason to explore the option further.