I have an amazing business opportunity, and I'm looking for investors. I'm creating a smartphone app that will use the sound of a police officer simply tapping against a car to determine if a vehicle might hold illegal drugs.
Naturally, you might be wondering how I was able to come up with a way to accurately detect illegal drugs with the just the mic of a simple smartphone. The answer is I haven't -- but that does not at all matter. Being able to accurately tell if a suspect might have drugs in their vehicle is simply not a concern for our justice system.
Our current system often uses so-called "drug sniffing dogs," and they are often truly terrible at their jobs. The problem is dogs aren't trying to find drugs. They are trying to make their handlers happy, and often what makes their handlers happy is getting a legal excuse to search a suspect's car. Some dogs will give the alert basically every time they are brought out to a car, regardless if there are drugs or not. Yet American courts still allow these dogs to be used as an excuse for a search.
Since it seems what our police and judicial system really wants is just a flimsy excuse to freely circumvent the 4th Amendment, there is naturally an incredible opening for innovation and tech disruption. It is dramatically cheaper and faster to program an app to indicate that illegal drugs might be present whenever it is convenient for a police officer than it is to program a dog to. Instead of spending thousands on training a dog with a horrible false-positive rate, the government could spend just $1.99 on my app with an equally bad false-positive rate.
Too many tech companies are too focused on how to make things actually work better or faster. They have missed a real opportunity to make money helping the government do something that doesn't work.
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