Polk County Sheriff’s Office announces new artificial intelligence lab

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Man in green uniform standing behind podium with an American flag behind him and a man in a suit with a purple tie standing to his left.
Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd is launching a partnership with Florida Polytechnic University to combat cybercrime by researching and using artificial intelligence. Photo by Polk County Sheriff's Facebook page for WMNF News (2024).

The Polk County Sheriff’s Office is partnering with Florida Polytechnic University for a new initiative to beef up the fight against cybercrimes. 

Sheriff Grady Judd called the new program Sheriff’s Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, or SAIL.

A video of Elon Musk praising the project was played during a press conference on Friday.

Except Judd said there was one problem with Musk’s video.

“Not one frame of that video is real. It’s fake,” he said. “It’s all created with A.I., and we must be able to tell the difference.”

The new A.I. unit will develop and research new tools, and use A.I.-created algorithms to hold criminals accountable.

Judd said a sheriff’s deputy with a background in computer coding will lead the initiative. Florida Poly students and researchers will work with the department to develop new tools and help solve cases.

 The sheriff said SAIL will help protect the public against the evils of A.I. 

“It is not only an investigative unit. It is a holistic unit dedicated to visioning, discovery, and creativity,” he said. “Its purpose is to use what we learn to keep the community safe. A.I. is the next uncharted universe.”

Years of police records will be uploaded to help create the data sets and make connections. But Judd said there will be human oversight in the program so there are no biased data sets. 

The sheriff said SAIL will not be expensive, since they already have the computers. But he added, “Even if it were, what’s your life worth?” 

Florida Poly President Dr. Randy K. Avent also spoke during the press conference.

“It’s crucial that we develop and implement robust methods to combat these threats because the A.I. crime of tomorrow will be even bigger than the cybercrime of today,” he said.

Avent said the collaboration will come up with examples of how the fast-moving technology can be used.

“I’ll guarantee you, a year from now, we’ll come back and there will be 20%, 30% more than we’d never in a million years thought, of ways that (A.I.) is being used,” Avent said.

The program is the first of its kind nationwide, according to Judd.

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