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Tags: algorithm | intuition | instinct

Are You Next Door to a Killer? Why AI Can't Size Up Character

ai security guard a robot

Artificial Intelligence (AI) security guard. (Vyychan/

Wendy L. Patrick By Friday, 09 June 2023 10:23 AM EDT Current | Bio | Archive

"Very few of us are what we seem."
  Agatha Christie 

Time to Prioritize the Power of Human Perception?

Are you living next to an axe-murderer?

Don’t expect Artificial Intelligence (AI) to know!

Yet considering the proliferation of AI research, some people might ask, why not?

If in retrospect, most next door neighbors describe the serial killer next door as "such a nice guy," couldn’t they have benefited by having more information?

In reality, follow up questioning reveals the reason the neighbors thought the killer was a "such a nice guy" is that "he kept to himself."


They did not know much about him at all.

Here's where human interaction could have yielded the best information.

Still — Don't Underestimate the Power of Perception

When it comes to sizing up personality and character, AI cannot replicate personal perception. Interacting with a stranger, acquaintance, or reclusive neighbor involves a mix of intuition and instinct.

AI can sort statistics, research and calculate at lightening speed, but lacks that sixth sense.

In a social setting, AI cannot cultivate chemistry or bond through building rapport.

It's great for performing tasks and retrieving data, but lacks human instinct and insight —which is often critical to threat assessment work.

But can AI assist with a risk assessment analysis?


This can include assisting a threat assessor in making proactive predictions.

AI Can Suggest Methods of Detecting Danger

As an illustration, I asked Chat GPT how AI can help detect dangerous people.

Among the answers it gave, were the following categories, which this writer is paraphrasing below:

Facial Recognition — Analyzing facial features and matching them against known databases of individuals of interest, including the use of this technology in public spaces and high-security areas to identify individuals with a criminal history or on watchlists.

Video Surveillance — Analyzing live or recorded footage in real-time, detecting suspicious behavior, identifying weapons, or recognize other potentially dangerous behavior.

Natural Language Processing — Artificial Intelligence can analyze text (written or spoken) to identify potential threats or potential indicators of dangerous behavior. Of particular relevance to the modern Internet era, this could include monitoring social media platforms to detect signs of violence or extremism.

Behavior Analysis — Using AI algorithms to recognize potentially dangerous patterns of behavior in order to identify abnormal behaviors or deviations from "expected norms."

This type of analysis can be useful within public places such as airports, or within the workplace.

Data Integration and Analysis — Aggregating and analyzing data from multiple sources, which could include criminal record databases, travel history, and social media activity.

Chat GPT incorporated within its answer a well-founded disclaimer, including the recognition that while AI can function as a valuable tool in detecting potential threats,

"Human judgment and intervention should always be involved in making final decisions based on the outputs generated by AI systems."


So if AI is to be used as a risk assessment investigative tool, the key is knowing what to delegate, and what to do ourselves.

Using AI in Violent Risk Assessment

Benjamin L. Spivak and Stephane M. Shepherd (in 2021) researched the use of AI in violence risk assessment.

They adopt a definition of Artificial Intelligence as an algorithm capable of "performing some function previously thought to be exclusive to human intelligence," that they use primarily related to applying AI to predicting offending. They note that interpreting AI in this limited way, it may constitute merely a new term for a long established practice.

In addressing the question of transparency, Spivak and Shepherd (ibid.) describe factors supporting human judgments of risk as "opaque," noting that a clinician's risk assessment will likely be influenced by processes outside of conscious awareness or involve processes that defy adequate explanation.

Along these lines, they note that although a clinician can explain the selection of risk-assessment classification, it is debatable whether or not the explanation accurately reflects the process by which the classification was reached.

Spivak and Shepherd (supra.) explain that unlike using our brains, AI-based risk assessments are based on math, which facilitates exploring whether risk classification would be different if the subject was a different age, or lacked a criminal record.

They explain these answers will not be reliable where the judgment about risk assessment involved human discretion.

Combining research with common sense, threat assessment professionals can use AI proactively in combination with the human power of perception, in targeted violence prevention.

The preceding article was originally published in Psychology Today, and is used with the permission of its author.

Wendy L. Patrick, JD, MDiv, Ph.D., is an award-winning career trial attorney and media commentator. She is host of "Live with Dr. Wendy" on KCBQ, and a daily guest on other media outlets, delivering a lively mix of flash, substance, and style. Read Dr. Wendy L. Patrick's Reports — More Here.

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Combining research with common sense, threat assessment professionals can use AI proactively in combination with the human power of perception, in targeted violence prevention.
algorithm, intuition, instinct
Friday, 09 June 2023 10:23 AM
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