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Microsoft Crime Patents Idle

Microsoft Patents Bad Neighborhood Detection 317

PolygamousRanchKid writes with these lines culled from InformationWeek: "With the grant of their US Patent #8090532 Microsoft may be attempting to corner the market on GPS systems for use by pedestrians, or they may have opened a fertile ground for discrimination lawsuits. ... Described as a patent on pedestrian route production, the patent describes a two-way system of building navigation devices targeted at people who are not in vehicles, but still require the use of such a device to most efficiently route to their destination. ... For example, the user inputs their destination and any constraints or requirements they might have, such as a wheelchair accessible route, types of terrain they are willing to cross, the option of public transportation, and a way point such as the nearest Starbucks on the route. Any previously configured preferences are also considered, such as avoiding neighborhoods that exceed a certain threshold of violent crime statistics (hence the description of this as the 'avoid bad neighborhoods' patent), fastest route, most scenic, etc." Having lived in some high-crime neighborhoods, the actual feature (versus the patent) sounds like a great idea to me.
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Microsoft Patents Bad Neighborhood Detection

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  • Very subjective (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 08, 2012 @12:29PM (#38629824)
    What you call a bad neighborhood, I may call home. Where do I send the money for the lawsuit?
  • by acidradio ( 659704 ) on Sunday January 08, 2012 @12:37PM (#38629898)

    Why should we all have to suffer at the hands of being politically correct? A bad neighborhood is what it is - BAD! It So that someone in that "bad" neighborhood isn't "offended" why should I have to risk my safety?

    I wish something like this would have existed when I chose my current house. The neighborhood looks great during the day but once it becomes dark all the bums and the freaks come out. They are all drunk or high and they do things out of "boredom" (as a police officer told me). Like vandalize my car and leave bloody handprints on the glass.

  • Re:Very subjective (Score:5, Insightful)

    by couchslug ( 175151 ) on Sunday January 08, 2012 @12:37PM (#38629900)

    Crime rates don't care what you call home, and if I'm travelling _I_ don't care what you call home.

    If you live in a high crime area, you don't need me as a visitor. You have no complaint.

  • by nurb432 ( 527695 ) on Sunday January 08, 2012 @12:39PM (#38629938) Homepage Journal

    Its because those indicators will often fall along racial lines, and for a while now here in America you have been forbidden to tell the truth.

  • Exploitable (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jawtheshark ( 198669 ) * <slashdot@j a w t h e s h> on Sunday January 08, 2012 @12:40PM (#38629948) Homepage Journal
    If I were a mugger, I'd use it to locate 'good' neighborhoods, and start mugging people there. A device to find new fat hunting grounds. I'd love it.
  • by Pharmboy ( 216950 ) on Sunday January 08, 2012 @12:56PM (#38630072) Journal

    I select realtors of similar demographics to myself, and bluntly inform them I want "no/few fucking neighbors, and none who are poor, and none who don't look like me".

    Since we are being politically incorrect, let me just say that you are part of the problem, you are not the solution. And you aren't even unique. Living in a small town in NC, I see plenty of assholes just like you. You can call it "Voluntary Segregation" all you want, but it simply boils down to bigotry. You think your race is better than any other race. It doesn't even matter what race you are.

    There is a broad line between free association and "I'm not willing to live near anyone who is a different color than me", and you have obviously passed it, well into pure racism. The individual doesn't matter, and it isn't even one race, you simply hate everyone who isn't exactly like you. I'm thankful you are not my neighbor.

    I could give you an analogy, but I don't want to break Godwin's Law.

  • Re:Very subjective (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Penguinisto ( 415985 ) on Sunday January 08, 2012 @12:57PM (#38630082) Journal

    If you live in a high crime area, you don't need me as a visitor. You have no complaint.

    Well, unless he is a criminal, in which case he does want you as a visitor.

    On a more serious note though, shying folks away from certain neighborhoods will decrease business to those areas, depressing them even further and, well, encouraging more crime. If this ever caught on, it would open a basket of crap. What if Bing goofed and blacklisted the wrong neighborhood? What if the bad neighborhood is trying to get some kind of renewal going, and businesses there desperately need the income? This would only delay things further, perhaps to the point of failure.

    I get the whole safety concept of it, but honestly, this begins to meddle in a lot of things that really shouldn't be meddled in.

    Okay, case in point: Highway 71 through Kansas City. Going southbound, it is very easy to miss a vital turn-off, and get deposited into one very rotten neighborhood. OTOH, during the day the folks are friendly enough, and I was able to ask directions, get gas, buy snacks, and one time to get a bad tire replaced. Once the sun went down, that place was not where you wanted to be (nearly everyone I spoke to there said as much), but during the day it was no problem. It eventually got so that I intentionally made stops there if I was passing through during the day, because quite a few of the business owners were very glad to see a stranger's face, the prices were reasonable, and they were a hell of a lot friendlier than the ones in better neighborhoods (let alone the truck stops).

    As someone who spent a good share of his childhood living in such areas, I'm not put off by the fact that often I was often the only caucasian-skinned guy in some of the establishments, so I guess my lack of anxiety may be a factor in all of this.

    In all though, that's a whole lot of subtle nuances that I sincerely doubt an algorithm could pick up on, and I suspect that a lot of otherwise good people are going to get screwed over by this thing.

  • Re:Very subjective (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mwehle ( 2491950 ) on Sunday January 08, 2012 @01:20PM (#38630286) Homepage

    this begins to meddle in a lot of things that really shouldn't be meddled in.

    WTF? My ignorance of crime rates is something that shouldn't be meddled in, because I have an imagined obligation to support businesses I know nothing about? Your choice to support businesses in what you describe as "one very rotten neighborhood" is *your* choice. I'd like to have access to crime data, if available, before I walk through an area that I'm unfamiliar with. If, as you suggest, there is some significant difference in crime incidence during daylight hours as opposed to darkness, I'd like to know that, also. The idea that merchants who are unknown to me are somehow entitled to my ignorance of crime rates, though, is bizarre.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 08, 2012 @01:32PM (#38630368)

    VOLUNTARY segregation is "the right of free association", and I'm all about me so I practice it when making the massive investment of a home. That's no time to bother with principles which are not to your advantage.

    For those who can, the segregation is voluntary. Most live where they can. We could have chosen a "better" hood, but that would have been filled with you"relatively rich, white, voluntarily segregated people and quite frankly I'd rather the kid turns into a juvenile delinquent than into you.

    Here we have a bit more relative poverty and a little more crime (not that I've seen any, and the city, where people from all around and all walks of life go to clubs and stuff is much more violent), but we have a hundred nationalities or so living here and we don't live in a fucking bubble shielding us from the real world.

    Go choke on a cupcake.

  • by xjerky ( 128399 ) on Sunday January 08, 2012 @02:25PM (#38630690)
    "Precisely how are those neighborhoods supposed to clean up if people are being constantly scared away by folks like MS? "

    It's not our job to bring money to businesses in Ghettos. Change comes from within.
  • Re:Very subjective (Score:3, Insightful)

    by bfandreas ( 603438 ) on Sunday January 08, 2012 @03:32PM (#38631194)
    I know the broken window theory. It's disputed because it mixes correlation with causation. And recent studies don't quite support it. I remember there was a story about this a couple of years ago but I can't quite remember what it was.
    But I do remember being surprised since it sounded so plausible.
  • by Pharmboy ( 216950 ) on Sunday January 08, 2012 @08:03PM (#38633102) Journal

    Crack a book. Certain demographics are more likely to get arrested for crimes, even when they are no more likely to commit the crime. Drug usage is a prime example of having the same percentage of black and white abusers, yet blacks have an arrest rate of 4x that of whites.

Perfection is acheived only on the point of collapse. - C. N. Parkinson