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National Police Agency to experiment with AI to predict crimes

TOKYO -- The National Police Agency (NPA) will request some 144 million yen in the fiscal 2019 budget to experiment with artificial intelligence (AI) to predict moves leading to crimes such as money laundering and terrorism, according to agency officials familiar with the plan. The agency aims to introduce the AI crime forecast system to police departments across the nation.

The agency is considering exploring three areas using AI: Identification of cars, analysis of questionable financial transactions and detection of terrorists targeting large-scale events.

In the car identification experiment, an AI system would be fed with data about cars used in and out of Japan, such as shapes and speed capacities, and then tasked to identify the type of suspicious cars captured by security cameras. The system would be designed to be capable of determining car types even with fragmentary data such as blurred images.

As for an AI program to pinpoint money laundering attempts, it would be coded so that it can extract questionable transactions out of large amounts of data provided by financial institutions and credit card companies. By developing a mechanism capable of finding accounts used for suspicious dealings, the agency hopes to snatch criminals trying to clean up their illicit benefits.

Up to some 400,000 questionable transactions were reported to the agency last year. To analyze the huge amount of data, investigators currently have to set a priority based on their past experiences on which data set they tackle first. Use of an AI system is expected to make this process more efficient. Specifically, the system would be programmed to find long-dormant accounts that started to receive lots of money suddenly, or repeated overseas wire transfers made in a short period of time.

Regarding terrorism detection, an AI system is envisioned to automatically pick up suspicious individuals or objects near the sites of major sports events or international conferences. The machine would read through a massive volume of footage to identify persons moving around the same area frequently or items that are left unattended over a long period of time.

It is not yet clear when such systems will be introduced, but the NPA wants to put them into use as soon as possible. An agency official in charge said that they want to utilize the rapidly improving AI systems to make police work more advanced and effective.

(Japanese original by Toshiaki Uchihashi, City News Department)

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