Can Algorithms Run Things Better Than Humans? Welcome to the rise of the algocracy

Police in Orlando, Florida, are using a powerful new tool to identify and track folks in real time. Video streams from four cameras located at police headquarters, three in the city’s downtown area, and one outside of a recreation center will be processed through Amazon’s Rekognition technology, which has been developed through deep learning algorithms trained using millions of images to identify and sort faces. The tool is astoundingly cheap: Orlando Police spent only $30.99 to process 30,989 images, according to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). For now the test involves only police officers who have volunteered for the trial.

But the company has big plans for the program. In a June meeting with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Amazon Web Services pitched the tech as part of a system of mass surveillance that could identify and track unauthorized immigrants, their families, and their friends, according to records obtained by the Project on Government Oversight.