Shoplifting Meets Its End

Shoplifting Meets its End

How AI Surveillance and Automated Shops Are Slowly Killing Shoplifting

July 3, 2018, Bruno Jacobsen

The days of shoplifting may have started to see their end. Not that they should be recalled fondly, of course. But a new AI security camera, made by Japanese telecom NTT East and Japanese startup Earth Eyes Corp. shows what's in store for security systems in shops.

Using open source technology developed by Carnegie Mellon University, "AI Guardman" uses machine learning techniques to spot troubling or "suspicious" behaviour in live feeds. You can see a demo video here.


While the accuracy of the system is still not well known, it follows similar trends in other security systems. Alphabet's Nest, for example, provides home security cameras that recognize familiar faces and can spot unfamiliar ones, alerting you when something seems suspicious.


But of course, the challenges of properly identifying suspicious behaviour in shops is different. According to The Verge, the makers of AI Guardman acknowledged the possibility of errors, especially when it came to indecisive customers or store clerks.


It appears to still be a prototype, however, and there's certainly time to improve it before it goes on sale. And with automation taking over in other areas within shops, it's certainly going to become much harder for shoplifters to get their way.


What the trend towards automated surveillance systems shows, though, is that we are coming much closer to an era of ubiquitous surveillance.


In our blog, we've alluded before to a world of constant surveillance. While it still seems far-fetched, the increased presence of surveillance systems is being quickly enabled by machine-learning and other AI developments. One one hand, automated surveillance systems scanning crowds, shops, and homes can make the world a much safer place. But they can also, and indeed they already have, raise serious questions about the ethics of such a world.


As we move towards it inexorably, it's important to start debating these questions seriously, and work together to ensure we get the best of both worlds.


Are you interested in future trends, developments, and other phenomena? Futures Platform's foresight radar includes all trends in this blog and hundreds more. Check it out here: Futures Platform


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