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Can Technology Help Predict Mass Shootings in the US?

Are we ready for a future where technology could reliably predict (and prevent) the large-scale events that are currently devastating our society?  

You don’t have to live in a major city to be subject to the heartbreak that is occurring on an all-too-regular basis. It seems every few weeks there is news of yet another mass shooting — dozens of individuals injured or killed by someone who decided to take up a weapon against others. While there may be plenty of clues for investigators, friends and neighbors to comb through after an attack, is there a way to leverage technology to predict (and prevent!) these senseless acts of violence?

Sensors + AI = More Accurate Predictions

While predictions may get more accurate in the future, will there be enough concern about litigation that companies won’t want to share that information? That’s always a possibility because this type of predictive algorithms will not be perfect. They may provide lawmakers and even consumers with an advance warning, but they could also throw off a large number of false positives that could wreak havoc in society. For this reason, it’s unlikely that we’ll have a widespread ability to predict mass shootings or other large acts of violence in the near future. Sensors and artificial intelligence are being used in a variety of applications in retail, such as the Amazon Go concept stores and malls across the country who are looking for creative ways to predict and optimize sales volume based on foot traffic. Unfortunately, this same technology is meeting some pushback in the consumer marketplace, specifically around the privacy of consumers.

Privacy Concerns Continue to Be an Issue

Privacy is one of the key conversations happening around the country that impacts businesses today. With the introduction of GDPR in Europe in 2018, the worldwide conversation around the privacy of personal, health and financial information has spread like wildfire across the US. California was one of the first states on board, developing the California Consumer Privacy Act that launched soon after. In all, 25 states currently have laws on the books that relate to data privacy in some way, with the majority of these applying to governments only at this time. These privacy laws could also restrict the ability of predictive programs simply because it would be illegal to share the vital information required for analysis.

Ultimately, technology can provide clues and indicators that something isn’t exactly as it should be, but the onus will continue to be on individuals — at least for the foreseeable future. Luis Alvarez, CEO of the Alvarez Technology Group sums it up: “If you see something, say something. If something doesn’t look right in a chat room or if someone is threatening others online, share that information with the proper authorities”. The professionals at Alvarez Technology Group share information and education with others to raise awareness of issues that impact businesses everywhere. Want to see how to optimize your business systems and put predictive technology to work for your business? Contact us today at 831-753-7677 or reach out online to get started with your free initial consultation.

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