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In Steven Spielberg’s 2002 “Minority Report,” pasty-white mutants in internet-enabled hot tubs use their precognitive powers to sniff out future “pre-crimes” giving police the opportunity to arrest future culprits before they commit their illicit acts. It’s thrilling, frightening science fiction, though the big-data revolution is now turning at least some of that narrative into law-enforcement fact.

As shown in “Pre-Crime“— a new documentary that premiered this past weekend at Toronto’s Hot Docs film festival — police departments around the world are partnering with private companies to use public data, personal information and algorithms to predict where illegal actions are most likely to occur (In Chile the police are working with scientist from University of Chile).

The German directors of “Pre-Crime,” Matthias Heeder and Monika Hielscher discuss their film in Salon magazine. This an excerpt from the interview.

What is “pre-crime”?

“Pre-crime” is a reference to a Hollywood movie called “Minority Report” in which people are arrested for crimes they have not committed yet. There’s a system in which it tells the police that someone is about to commit a crime.

 

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