Artificial Intelligence technology has advanced so much over the years to the point where the idea of humanoid robots is being entertained by Tesla CEO, Elon Musk. However, how safe are we from being faulted by the future of an advanced society?
A 65-year-old Chicago man found out the hard way that being in the wrong place at the wrong time could land you in jail for a year after police-issued gunshot detector ShotSpotter identified him as the shooter in a crime he didn’t commit but was simply driving near.
As reported in detail by the Associated Press, Michael Williams was imprisoned last year for the killing of 25-year-old Safarain Herring who asked him for a ride after allegedly being shot in a drive-by shooting in the midst of one particularly heavy night of police brutality back in May 2020. The only thing tying Williams to the crime was a noiseless security video that caught his car going through an intersection, paired with a loud popping noise detected on the ShotSpotter microphones that determined he was the killer.
Take a look at how charges on him were eventually dropped last month after prosecutors determined they had insufficient evidence, via Motherboard:
“That night, 19 ShotSpotter sensors detected a percussive sound at 11:46 p.m. and determined the location to be 5700 South Lake Shore Drive—a mile away from the site where prosecutors say Williams committed the murder, according to a motion filed by Williams’ public defender. The company’s algorithms initially classified the sound as a firework. That weekend had seen widespread protests in Chicago in response to George Floyd’s murder, and some of those protesting lit fireworks.
But after the 11:46 p.m. alert came in, a ShotSpotter analyst manually overrode the algorithms and “reclassified” the sound as a gunshot. Then, months later and after “post-processing,” another ShotSpotter analyst changed the alert’s coordinates to a location on South Stony Island Drive near where Williams’ car was seen on camera.”
The public defender ultimately determined that the one source of evidence that put Williams behind bars was faulty and altered to begin with, writing in his motion, “Through this human-involved method, the ShotSpotter output in this case was dramatically transformed from data that did not support criminal charges of any kind to data that now forms the centerpiece of the prosecution’s murder case against Mr. Williams.”
With ShotSpotter in place throughout more than 100 cities, averaging 21,000 alerts each year in Chicago alone, many community members are calling for major changes in the AI tech after what they claim has been little benefit in both decreasing gun violence and improving police interactions.
Given the circumstances, does advanced tech like ShotSpotter do more damage than good? Let us know your thoughts on this by joining the Digital Era debate over on social media!
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