Automated surveillance is necessary for Wall Street firms because billions of e-mails flow through each bank annually, overwhelming the ability of people to monitor them, according to Estes. Still, technology that predicts behavior, as in the 2002 science-fiction movie “Minority Report,” in which Tom Cruise plays a Precrime officer who hunts down murder suspects before they can act, raises ethical questions.
“What they’re trying to do is forecast human behavior,” said Mark Williams, a former Federal Reserve bank examiner who’s now a lecturer at Boston University’s Questrom School of Business. “Policing intentions can be a slippery slope. Do people get a scarlet letter for something they have yet to do?”