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“Increasing Automation in Policing” by Joh, E. E.


Modern society is at the stage of a global transition to a new technological structure associated with the digital revolution, the significance of which is determined not only by changes in technology but also by a radical restructuring of the state of public institutions. This may include forms and models of the organization of society, public administration mechanisms, as well as public value systems and ideologies. All types of interaction between the subjects of society are directly determined by materially expressed technologies of communication, so this is a fundamental problem not only of the law but also of humanitarian knowledge. The question as a whole lies in the theoretical explication of the role of technology in social processes, identifying the totality of ethical and axiological problems created by scientific and technological progress, finding forms of leading, or at least not lagging legal response.

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Automation increase in policing is a highly controversial issue because it brings several opportunities alongside a wide range of problems regarding privacy and civil rights. Specifically, artificial intelligence (AI) can enable police departments to perform checks, oversight, and criminal investigations by dismissing a citizen’s Fourth Amendment rights regarding unreasonable seizures and searches. This is an important issue because such technology can be easily abused by the police. Although the given concern on a significant increase in policing power is valid, one can argue that it is a minor trade-off for more safety and security. Therefore, any form of order and lawfulness can only be established by a small sacrifice of freedom, which is why automation in policing is a positive occurrence.


The article primarily focuses on the use of AI in police departments, where it expands the possibilities of oversight and public monitoring. The author raises concerns regarding such measures and developments because the citizens undergoing these policing approaches are not protected by the Fourth Amendment rights. The main reason is that it does not include items or features exposed to the public knowingly (Joh, 2020). The author suggests that the Supreme Court needs to adjust the Fourth Amendment for it to match the current growth of technological capability, including AI (Joh, 2020). The purpose of the article is to allow people to recognize how such advancements in policing can indirectly dismiss a citizen’s rights to freedom. The writer wants to warn the readers and suggest a plausible solution for the given issue, where citizens can demand the readjustment of the Fourth Amendment.

As a result, several ethical and legal problems arise, both fundamental and purely applied. In the first case, it is necessary to remember the ethics of artificial intelligence, understanding the issue as a series of tasks of understanding the fundamental transformation, assessing the social and humanitarian consequences of the large-scale implementation of intelligent technologies, and ensuring national security in new technological conditions. In the second case, it is necessary to analyze the possible and essential forms of the reaction of legal systems to technological challenges, to accumulate and generalize the experience of legal regulation of emerging phenomena, to study and fix acceptable forms of transformation of law in the new conditions.

Rhetorical Appeals

The author’s appeal to logos is manifested in the fact that policing power increase can be associated with power abuse. It is a logical assumption because the policing process itself involves undermining one’s freedom to preserve order and peace. The author states: “There is the sheer amount of data now potentially available to the police, including all our online activity, digitized analog information, and our movements through space and time” (Joh, 2020, p. 20). In addition, the writer’s appeal to emotion can be observed in the fact that one’s freedom and privacy are hindered by the technological advancements in the police. She writes: “The unrelenting collection of information is made possible because of both the digital trails we leave online and the sensors that capture all our physical world selves” (Joh, 2020, p. 21). In other words, mass data collection is becoming more powerful, where a citizen’s permission and consent are not included.

The credibility or ethos of the article is manifested in the Supreme Court case with Carpenter. This illustrates that the court can make decisions involving data collection and the Fourth Amendment. The verdict was in favor of the defendant, where the FBI needed the warrant to be able to access the cell phone data of a person (Joh, 2020). This was based on the fact that such an investigative approach undermined the defendant’s Fourth Amendment rights. However, the author uses logos because it is the most effective in case of raising awareness regarding the dangers of AI and advanced technology.

The impact on the argument is substantial, and it is fueled by the cases of the policing power increase. One of the most striking examples of ethical and legal problems of an applied nature is the active use of intelligent systems to analyze the behavior of an observed person. Intelligent surveillance systems are being actively introduced not only into the activities of internal affairs bodies and public administration but also into the activities of commercial organizations. The results of information processing using networks can not only be used to prevent, disclose, and investigate crimes but also provide security, facilitate access to financial products, and increase sales.

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The opposing argument would be that one’s Fourth Amendment rights are not as relevant as a citizen’s safety and justice. This is a faulty argument because any improvement should come at the cost of sacrifice. Both of these components need to be adjusted to be compatible and in conjunction with each other. The author states that the implementation of AI in policing vastly expands the pool of activities and people that the police departments can watch (Joh, 2020). The original argument is stronger because it does not call for prohibition, but rather raises awareness on potential power abuse and suggests adjustments. Therefore, the article wants the law to be by the technology. Digital technologies create a new environment and reality, significantly different not only from the artificial nature of the age of progress. In the currently available variety of economic, sociological, and historical ways of substantiating scientific and technological progress, determining its impact on social processes, one should be guided by concepts.

Technology is understood as the basis of any material culture, in the form of once invented and then objectively existing tools or techniques to achieve human goals. The general logic of the deployment of scientific and technological progress is associated with the transformation of the human environment, including natural nature. While the technical capabilities of humanity were limited to the creation of artifacts in the field of the physical world, humanitarian activity and law could rely on the ethical codes of traditional religions and the established worldview principles of certain national cultures that have been formed over centuries.


The author’s concerns are grounded and based on evidence, but the above-mentioned technological advancements also increase the overall security of the population. The article fails to address or mention the fact that the increase in policing power also eliminates any possibility of criminal activity. One will be highly reluctant to break the law if he or she knows that police have constant oversight. It is stated that the FBI received 12000 location points by analyzing Carpenter’s phone (Joh, 2020). This is a remarkable achievement because it involved robbery. Therefore, the article only illuminates the side of the topic, because it seems that legal adjustments should be made, but the margin of improvement needs to be also discussed. The overall utilitarian value of such a technology can be paramount during population-level threats, such as terrorism or mass murder. Utilizing counterarguments makes the given evaluation stronger by understanding the author’s intention. The writer is right to raise these questions and propose potential solutions, but she also needs to provide the potential ramifications of dismissing AI usage in policing. It is important to understand the cost of not being able to collect data on a mass scale.


In conclusion, any significant advancement in technology brings a host of new problems. The use of AI in policing can be negligent to a citizen’s Fourth Amendment rights, which prohibits unreasonable seizures and searches. Mass surveillance and data collection are not as visible as in-person checks, which makes it easy to dismiss the legal aspect of the issue. However, the author should have also mentioned the benefit of these technologies in terms of increasing safety and reducing crime.


Joh, E. E. (2020). Increasing automation in policing. Communications of the ACM, 63(1), 20-22.

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