New Computer System Senses Gunfire

Wired News is reporting that a new computer system now being tested by some U.S. cities can detect the sound of a gunshot and determine which direction it came from, helping police to respond faster to potential crimes. According to the story, these devices (which are currently hefty – 2 feet by 3 feet by 3 feet) are mounted on utility poles, and cities have the option of whether they want them to be   camouflaged or look obvious to citizens. While this development is interesting in and of itself, and no doubt helps to reduce crime, it also raises some interesting questions:

  1. In the future, will I be able to Google a gunshot-sound database to see what neighborhoods I might want to avoid before I travel to a certain city?
  2. If the system can detect sounds and determine that they are gunshots, how much longer before the system can listen in on conversations?
  3. Since these machines can easily become targets of people who don’t like the idea of not being able to sell their guns and drugs without interruption, how long before these machines are given permission to fire back if fired upon?

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