There is a novelty that could transform public safety in Italy. And it has a name that inspires respect and fear: that of a God, Jupiter. It’s a revolutionary system that uses artificial intelligence to help police predict crimes before they happen.
The “guardian” of the future
Jupiter is not a simple computer program. It is a virtual helper managed by the State Police, designed to identify, predict and prevent crimes of various kinds, from home theft to scams, passing through sexual harassment. And his “human colleagues” assure: he is incredibly good at his job.
Like the “pre-crime” from the movie “Minority Report”
Jupiter does something extraordinary: it sees the future. On the contrary: to be precise, he listens to him. As? Analyzing data from different sources, recognizing hidden patterns and linking crimes that occurred in different times and places. If a gang of bad guys has pulled off a string of thefts, Jupiter can help the police predict their next target.
To do this, Jupiter needs first-hand material: denunciations. They are the fuel for this prediction engine. When a report is filed that corresponds to a crime detected by Giove, police operators can gather as much detail as possible on the modus operandi of the criminals.
This tool will help to optimize the distribution of police forces on the territory, focusing them on areas with a high risk of crime. A small step for a software, a big leap for Italian public safety.
What about our privacy?
While the use of Jupiter holds promise in preventing crime and ensuring citizen safety, there are legitimate concerns regarding privacy and the protection of personal data. In fact, the software relies on a large amount of data collected by the police, including complaints and other sensitive information, to make its predictions.
It’s not hard to imagine the worrying scenarios that could emerge if this information fell into the wrong hands or were used in unethical ways. Could, for example, create a form of criminal profiling based on factors that could end up discriminating against certain segments of the population? What if this data is hacked or used for purposes other than crime prevention?
Authorities are aware of the challenges inherent in this technology. Francis Messina, head of the Central Anti-Crime Directorate of the State Police, underlines the importance of human control over Jupiter. It is not only about ensuring that AI decisions are correct, but also about ensuring that fundamental rights, privacy and personal freedoms are not compromised.
Furthermore, Messina points out, the use of Jupiter is currently limited to data specifically related to crimes and reports, and access to such data is strictly controlled. Computer security, encryption and other data protection methods are used to prevent violations and abuses.
But is that enough? I recently told you about the cases of Fusus and Clearview, and Jupiter echoes them a lot. As it echoes other “smart” policing tools already in place in the US and Australia.
State Police yes, State Police no
Many believe that a broader debate is needed on how to balance the benefits of predictive policing with the potential privacy risks. It is a complex and sensitive topic that requires an open dialogue between law enforcement, ethics and technology experts, and civil society. And today this debate has officially begun in Italy too.
The future of predictive policing with Jupiter could be promising, but it is essential to proceed with caution, keeping in mind the importance of transparency, respect for privacy and citizens’ rights. Only in this way will we be able to fully exploit the potential of this technology, without compromising the fundamental values of our society.