Human-hacking and other future crimes

 6 minute read

While technological advancements are designed for the good of people, often these technologies are also being used by the darker side of the population for sinister gains. Criminal activity is changing along with digitalization and biohacking, and regrettably, often delinquents are many steps ahead of the game. Crime is becoming increasingly virtual and global, and different in ways that law enforcement needs to be prepared for.

Less distant
distance

As society goes through a change, everyone needs to adapt. Alternatively, does society adjust to the changing world? With the introduction of technology, it has become more difficult to commit crimes. Along with CCTV, central locking systems, and credit card security, global rates of small crimes have dropped in the last 20 years. Nevertheless, the future reveals new more dangerous ways to interfere with human life. Futurist Thomas Frey suggests that there will be new types of crimes enabled by future innovations.

Technology has made working from a distance possible. For criminals, this is good news as they can be physically far away when committing crimes. Studies have shown that humans are more likely to commit terrible acts if they are further away from the target because it makes it feel less personal. One of the ways for drone usage could be transporting illegal substances, acting as weapons and spying on possible enemies. Distance could also be utilized by sending pandemics or bombs from space accurately to terrestrial targets. In 2016, there were around 2.5 million drones in the American sky. By 2020, the number could triple.

Invading brain activity

Gene hacking is already becoming a reality. CRISPR is a technology that offers a possibility to change one’s genome. This technology can be used to create new life forms or to edit humans. At the same time, CRISPR enables creating destructive life forms, contagious diseases and by sadistically editing humans to, for example, feel heightened anxiety and fear. This is not all. Frey suggests that brains will be hacked too. If the grey matter in the brain can be influenced, memories could be changed, forcing people to commit crimes or even change personalities, values, and attitudes.

Weapons of the future will be different too. Criminals don’t need to commit most crimes anymore physically but can do so with drones, online or by spreading modified diseases. If they do, however, require firearms, these do not need to be transported but can instead be 3D printed wherever. How will law enforcement be able to track weaponry then?

AI crime creator or preventer?

Artificial intelligence is a word that keeps popping up everywhere. It is no surprise that also criminals exploit it. People tend to believe what they read and hear, especially when it comes from a reliable source. AI will give the opportunity to distort information so that individuals will either be fooled or lose trust in the media and previously trustworthy records. Another, almost SCI-FI like crime is mixed reality distortions, where AR games would require to physically hurt or even kill passers-by.

Same technologies serve law enforcement. Multiple different prediction algorithms have been developed to predict crimes or to decide whether an arrested individual needs to be confined before trial. IBM, for instance, launched an analytical programme, Blue CRUSH, that can predict places of crimes and the possible perpetrators. With similar intent, OnStar is a programme that can be installed in cars to get easier police assistance in the case of an emergency. Police can through this device get information of a stolen car and remotely slow it down. Could this same programme, or a similar one, be used to prevent crimes as well?

Actions for monitoring
and interfering with a crime

Thankfully, law enforcement can prepare for the future of crimes by developing new technology to respond to criminal activity. Unfortunately, the public cannot be informed of all their advancements, as then criminals would be able to, in turn, further develop their methods accordingly.

Innovations have been designed to help in detecting and monitoring crimes. Surveillance systems have been used already for a while now as help to fight crime. However, these systems will become more intelligent and begin to identify specific people as well as abnormal or suspicious behavior. Surveillance helps not only to prevent crimes but also to monitor policeman. Body cameras and sensors are connected to police vehicles, weapons, and all required networks. For instance, ShotStopper, correspondingly, detects gunshots with acoustic sensors as well as machine learning algorithms and sends information about the exact location of the incident to the law enforcement. The company has reported the device to have the ability to pinpoint the site within three meters. Police can also track items that criminals are interested in by spraying a substance called SmartWater on the objects. This substance is only detected under a specific light.

Law enforcement is increasing usage of robots and drones in their service to both monitor and interfere with a crime. Dubai has already begun to use robots in their police force and intends to make 25% of the force robotic by 2030. Currently, these robots are only devices people can report crimes to, pay fines and get more information from. In the future of fighting larger scale crime, robots will be used to inspect hazardous areas and to dismantle bombs. Flying drones can be used to investigate crime scenes that are difficult to reach in other ways.

So-called brain fingerprints will be used instead of polygraphs that measure whether the perpetrator is lying. Brain imaging methods have already shown that the brain activates when an individual is shown pictures of details of crime scenes. However, as good as this sounds, brain imaging is not currently reliable enough to accurately make presumptions of a suspect’s guilt.

Protective tech
for law enforcement

Despite most of the secrecy in law enforcement’s plans for protection, some inventions have been revealed to the public. Microwave Active Denial Systems are being developed to keep people safe by controlling crowds and individuals considered to be high-risk threats. The technology uses microwaves directed at people that cause pain due to liquids in the body boiling. This is a very risky innovation, as it has the power of killing people. Exoskeletons can make an ordinary police officer into a real-life superhero. These “suits” enable an individual to have more strength, make them faster as well as offer protection. The art of espionage has previously required acting talent. A technology is being developed that would, instead, make the individual wearing it less visible. This tech uses thousands of holographic discs that enable the wearer to blend into the background.

Insight Box

Despite all the actions law enforcement is taking to extinguish the spark of criminal activity, one significant problem remains: Crime happens increasingly virtually and globally, whereas law enforcement works nationally. How will the police force stay on track with criminal investigations if they work on a whole different level? One of the most critical jobs of law enforcement in the future is to remain the moral voice behind justice. As much as AI and technology speed up the process of fighting crime, they cannot handle the whole operation.

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