SINGAPORE – The latest robots, virtual communication tools and facial recognition software were on display at the INTERPOL Global Complex for Innovation this week, as experts from different sectors gathered to consider practical applications of these new technologies for law enforcement.
Technological advances in the fields of artificial intelligence and robotics – from facial recognition to ‘futurecasting’ technology – can have many implications for police worldwide, both positive and negative. In the hands of criminals, these technologies can pose digital and physical threats, while at the same time these tools offer new opportunities to police in combating crime.
The first global meeting to examine the opportunities and risks of AI and robotics for law enforcement was organized by INTERPOL’s Innovation Centre and the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI), through its Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics.
The two-day (11 and 12 July) conference brought together some 50 participants from law enforcement in 13 countries and partners from the private sector and academia to exchange expertise on the latest developments in the fields of AI and robotics, understand how they can be used by law enforcement to support their activities, and gain insight on potential challenges.
Discussions on ways that police could adopt these emerging solutions looked at the use of AI for conducting virtual autopsies; crime prediction systems to support police to optimize resources; behaviour detection tools; techniques to autonomously research, analyse and respond to international mutual legal assistance requests; blockchain-based traceability approaches that respect privacy; and autonomous patrol vehicles.
The participants also considered ethical challenges such innovations could present to police, such as ensuring AI is fair, explainable and transparent and balancing the need for security with the right to privacy. They underlined the need to have further discussions on ethics and privacy, and a call was made for a follow-up meeting on this topic.
“Innovation is not a matter for police alone. Strong partnerships between all stakeholders with expertise is necessary to ensure police can quickly adapt to future challenges and formulate inventive solutions,” said Anita Hazenberg, Director of INTERPOL’s Innovation Centre.
Several private sector companies gave live demonstrations of virtual communications, facial recognition, and incident prediction and response optimization systems to provide their law enforcement counterparts a better understanding of how such technologies work and could benefit the policing community.
Police forces which are already using innovative technologies, such as the Singapore Police Force’s patrolling robots, to assist their daily work shared their experiences during the conference.
“I believe that we are taking critical first steps to building a platform for ‘future-proofing’ law enforcement,” said Irakli Beridze of the UNICRI Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics.
“Initiatives such as this will help us to prepare for potential future types of crime and capitalize on technological advancements to develop new and effective tools for law enforcement,” he concluded.
Building upon the issues discussed during the conference, INTERPOL are exploring whether the many examples presented could be part of the Interpol Police Technology and Innovation Radar. INTERPOL will also hold a drone expert forum in August to further assist police in understanding how drones can at the same time be a tool, a threat and a source of evidence.