Hit & Run

Steven Greenhut on Data-Mining, Government Snooping, and Our Increasingly Dystopian Future

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Credit: Flickr.com / Elvert Barnes / CC-BY-SA

As with most futuristic movies, the plot from Minority Report seemed a bit far-fetched. Police psychics dispatched officers to arrest perpetrators of crimes before they actually took place. Eleven years after its release, however, writes Steven Greenhut, the movie seems remarkably prescient. That's because police around the country are increasingly using a "Big Data" approach to fighting crime, relying on supercomputers to build profiles so that, as one police chief told a reporter, "you can logically predict where crimes are likely to occur the next day."