Law enforcement authorities and agencies should embrace Artificial Intelligence (AI) in their work to increase their efficiency and effectiveness, and to keep up with technological innovations, said opening speakers at the 2019 Organization for Security Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Annual Police Experts Meeting last week. This technology must be used in strict compliance with human rights and fundamental freedoms, they added.
The meeting, this year entitled Artificial Intelligence and law enforcement – an ally or adversary?, brought together some 130 law enforcement experts and other criminal justice practitioners, representatives of OSCE delegations, regional and international organizations, technical specialists, and researchers, as well as civil society representatives from OSCE participating States and Partners for Co-operation.
Over the course of two days, discussions focused on how AI impacts the work and structure of police services and what challenges and opportunities the future could bring.
Opening the meeting on behalf of Slovakia’s 2019 OSCE Chair, General Jana Maškarová, First Vice-President of Slovakia’s Police Force, said: “As the title of this year’s meeting indicates, we will devote our attention to the issue of artificial intelligence and try to answer the elementary question: Is artificial intelligence our ally or our adversary. When is it our ally and when does it become our adversary? For a long time we have been aware that modern technologies are not only used by us – police officers – in detecting and investigating crimes, but especially by our adversaries – in order to facilitate their illegal activity.”
It was noted that although AI in the work of law enforcement is relatively new, it is commonly agreed that AI techniques have considerable potential. Some AI-based tools have already been tested and are used by police services worldwide. These include video and image analysis software, facial recognition systems, biometric identification, drones and robots, and predictive analysis tools to forecast future crime.
Addressing the meeting participants through a video message, OSCE Secretary General Thomas Greminger said: “Many have already started to positively apply AI in their work. Just think about AI-enabled algorithms that automatically recognize missing persons or stolen cars. Or advanced crime forecasting tools, such as predictive policing. However, criminal organizations are also quick to adopt new technologies. We have seen it in the past, and AI will be no exception.”
He added that irresponsible or unethical uses of AI can pose unforeseen risks to liberties and privacy rights. Therefore, the correct balance between effective policing and protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms must always be an essential element in both the discussions on AI and its use.
The meeting’s participants explored how AI technologies can be misused for committing crime in the future, including cybercrime or human trafficking. Another session was dedicated to key legal, ethical, human rights and gender-related concerns linked to the application of AI-based technologies in the work of law enforcement authorities and agencies.
The main findings and outcome of the meeting will be compiled in a report, which will serve as a basis for further discussions on AI at the national, regional and international level, and as guidance for the OSCE when developing and providing capacity building and technical assistance to the participating States and Partners for Co-operation.