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Boston Is Stepping Up Their Public Surveillance Just a BitAugust 12, 2014

In an attempt to prevent a reoccurrence of terrorist attacks such as those initiated during last year’s Boston Marathon, the Boston Police Department has decided to implement the use of an artificially intelligent, self-learning camera surveillance network. This system is able to keep a close eye on the entire city as well as the activities of its inhabitants without requiring much intervention or human assistance at all.

A Highly Advanced Surveillance System

Behavioral Recognition Systems, Inc. (BRS Labs) is known for developing some of the most advanced AI-based monitoring platforms, and the system that has been developed to monitor the city of Boston is no exception to this rule. It is not only able to monitor and analyze human behavior; it uses the information it gleans to identify any abnormal or suspicious activity as well. The system is unique in that it is able to predict a variety of threats without requiring any form of human programming or intervention.

Seeking out the Unusual

Chief Science Officer of BRS labs, Wesley Cobb made the following statement regarding the system, “Our system will figure out things you never thought of looking for. You never thought to look for a car driving backwards up the entrance of a parking garage, for example. Our system will find that and alert on it, because it’s different from what it usually sees. It’s taught itself what to look for.” The system also “promises to change the way humans conduct their surveillance of other humans.” It is also being adopted for use in Washington and Chicago, and the company apparently worked on developing a similar system for the World Cup organizers.

Monitoring and Accumulating Data

The system starts out by merely monitoring its environment and all activity is then recorded by means of cameras dotted throughout the city. It builds up a profile of what it considers as normal behavior. Once sufficient data is collected, it draws on artificial neural networks to register what it considers as abnormal behavior without needing further programming. The system can be hooked up to existing cameras, and be fully operational within days. Cobb stated, “We can recognize a precursor pattern that could be associated with a crime before it happens. In a lot of cases, you can see someone casing the joint, poking around the back of buildings, going where they shouldn’t be.”

Privacy Concerns

BRS Labs has however stated that, with the introduction of a high-end monitoring system like this one, it is “concerned about the privacy rights of individuals everywhere.” It is in fact quite simple to imagine the potential for abuse that such a system could create, especially when one considers the recent leaks of what was classified as bulk surveillance programs that were recently conducted by the national Security Agency (NSA).

Although such programs were vehemently defended in the name of national security, numerous security experts have allegedly admitted that monitoring tactics such as the one mentioned above have in fact done little to nothing to help prevent terrorist-related incidents.

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