The Artificial Intelligence (AI) eye in the sky breakthrough By Suf Alkhaldi

Constant surveillance from the sky using AI
Constant surveillance from the sky using AI

The idea of doing 24-hour surveillance of a whole city from the air and waiting for a crime to happen before using the surveillance tape to go back and follow where the perpetrator came from is a game-changer in law enforcement.  Russ McNutt,  a graduate of MIT, was able to build this technology with the help of a powerful AI Algorithm.  The company used a small plane equipped with a 44 mega-pixel camera. Keep in mind that our cell phone camera usually has 1-5 megapixels, and normal cameras are around 17 megapixels.  Our eyes cannot know the difference after 7.5 megapixels. Using the footage from the camera, which filmed an entire city all day long, the team of McNutt identified the location of the perpetrators prior to a crime.  The technology proved itself in Juarez, Mexico where the surveillance film from the whole city was able to pinpoint the leader of a drug cartel after the assassination of a policewoman. The assassins returned to the home of the leader of the cartel after they had carried out their task.  All were apprehended as a result of this new technology.

This technology is still proving itself in many scenarios, and it is not known what will be the legal challenges in the future. Recently, the technology was used in Baltimore   a city in the US where the operating company had more than 100 leads to solve very difficult crimes. Still the privacy groups and advocates believe that the technology violates the privacy of the people, and therefore, it should not be used.  The potential of misusing the data is quite high.

Going back in time and finding the culprit using this AI surveillance technology has altered the way we fight crime in the US, and I assume in other countries as well.  Will our society allow us to use this technology in exchange for a loss of personal freedom? As of now, I don’t have a strong position on this issue.  I believe we need to insure that this technology will not be an intrusion in our privacy and we need to restrict the use of the data to its intended purpose.  When Google cars were roaming the streets to take 360-degree camera shots, many people had some concerns, asking Google to limit mapping the streets.  Google responded by allowing people to opt-out of the images, including blurring some car license plates and people’s identities thereby creating  a good balance between the great benefits of Google maps and individuals’ privacy.

AI advancement will be encroaching on our private lives more and more.  The best strategy to deal with these concerns is to have balance and safety limits in place to prevent the misuse of the data.  Our knowledge and benefit from Eye in the sky will create safer cities, and it will also monitor ceasefires in contested areas during war.  The technology can be used to identify war crimes as well.  I am very optimistic that this technology can be used in peace treaty enforcement.

Thank you for reading my post. I would love to hear from you (



  1. johnrbryce November 14, 2016 at 5:18 am

    We all know the term “Brotherly Love”. This technology suggest a new term “Big Brotherly Love”. It suggests benefits and risks. If this is an online or wireless system it would be vulnerable to exploit by hackers. Insiders may tab use it for personal purposes. Dystopian novels and movies often have a version of mass surveillance which indicates the public unease with this subject. But times change and the public may welcome more security at the cost of freedom. Personally, I would hold on to more freedom for as long as possible.

    Jane Doe stopped by McDonald’s, Dunkin Donuts, and Baskin Robbins on the way home from work. We’ll raise her monthly health benefits premiums by 20%. I won’t mention the scary stuff.

  2. User Avatar Suf Alkhaldi November 15, 2016 at 12:16 am

    Hi John,

    I am also reserved about the use of AI in surveillance. Having said that with debate and some guidelines, we will be able to the miss use of technology. As always, all technologies can be misused. We need to fine the balance between our privacy and benefits. Thank you for reading my post.


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