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Eu Funding 'orwellian' AI Plan to Monitor Public For 'abnormal Behavior'

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The European Union-funded Project Indect is developing software that monitors and processes information collected from Web sites, discussion forums, file servers, peer-to-peer networks, and individual computers in an effort to automatically detect threats, abnormal behavior, or violence. The project involves researchers from more than 10 European countries and is part of the EU's effort to expand its role in fighting crime and terrorism and managing migration.

Project Indect, which started earlier this year, is developing a platform for the registration and exchange of operational data, multimedia content, intelligent processing of information, and automatic detection of threats. Researchers in York University's computer science department say their goal is to develop "computational linguistic techniques for information gathering and learning from the Web."

Another EU project, Automatic Detection of Abnormal Behavior and Threats in crowded Spaces (Adabts), aims to develop models of suspicious behavior so that closed-circuit TV and other surveillance methods can be upgraded to automatically detect suspicious behavior. The Adabts system would track individuals in a crowd and analyze their body movements and the pitch of their voice. Adabts project coordinator Jorgen Ahlberg, of the Swedish Defense Research Agency, says the system will make it easier for security personnel to spot problems.

However, Open Europe analyst Stephen Booth says the projects sound "Orwellian" and raise serious questions about individual liberty and rights. "These projects would involve a huge invasion of privacy and citizens need to ask themselves whether the EU should be spending their taxes on them," Booth says.

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