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Thu Feb 27, 2014, 04:47 PM

The minority report: Chicago's new police computer predicts crimes, but is it racist?

By Matt Stroud on February 19, 2014 09:31 am

When the Chicago Police Department sent one of its commanders to Robert McDaniel’s home last summer, the 22-year-old high school dropout was surprised. Though he lived in a neighborhood well-known for bloodshed on its streets, he hadn’t committed a crime or interacted with a police officer recently. And he didn’t have a violent criminal record, nor any gun violations. In August, he incredulously told the Chicago Tribune, "I haven't done nothing that the next kid growing up hadn't done.” Yet, there stood the female police commander at his front door with a stern message: if you commit any crimes, there will be major consequences. We’re watching you.

What McDaniel didn’t know was that he had been placed on the city’s “heat list” — an index of the roughly 400 people in the city of Chicago supposedly most likely to be involved in violent crime. Inspired by a Yale sociologist’s studies and compiled using an algorithm created by an engineer at the Illinois Institute of Technology, the heat list is just one example of the experiments the CPD is conducting as it attempts to push policing into the 21st century.

Predictive analytical systems have been tested by police departments all over the country for years now, but there’s perhaps no urban police force that’s further along — or better funded — than the CPD in its quest to predict crime before it happens. As Commander Jonathan Lewin, who’s in charge of information technology for the CPD, told The Verge: “This will become a national best practice. This will inform police departments around the country and around the world on how best to utilize predictive policing to solve problems. This is about saving lives.”

But the jury’s still out about whether Chicago’s heat list and its other predictive policing experiments are worth the invasions of privacy they might cause and the unfair profiling they could blatantly encourage. As Hanni Fakhoury, a staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, told The Verge: “My fear is that these programs are creating an environment where police can show up at anyone’s door at any time for any reason.”

http://www.theverge.com/2014/2/19/5419854/the-minority-report-this-computer-predicts-crime-but-is-it-racist



Precrime is here!

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Reply The minority report: Chicago's new police computer predicts crimes, but is it racist? (Original post)
MrScorpio Feb 2014 OP
JJChambers Feb 2014 #1
MrScorpio Feb 2014 #2
JJChambers Feb 2014 #3
MrScorpio Feb 2014 #4
JJChambers Feb 2014 #7
MrScorpio Feb 2014 #9
JJChambers Feb 2014 #11
seveneyes Feb 2014 #10
Blue_Tires Feb 2014 #5
MrScorpio Feb 2014 #6
Donald Ian Rankin Feb 2014 #8
Downwinder Feb 2014 #12

Response to MrScorpio (Original post)

Thu Feb 27, 2014, 05:00 PM

1. Racist?

 

Is race one of the variables that the algorithm considers? Is that data present?

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Response to JJChambers (Reply #1)

Thu Feb 27, 2014, 05:04 PM

2. I'm going to presume that you can't help yourself from here on out...

That's alright, I understand.

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Response to MrScorpio (Reply #2)

Thu Feb 27, 2014, 05:11 PM

3. Thanks

 

I'm going to assume you don't have an answer to a simple, pertinent question. If race is considered by the system, which it should NOT be, then the predictions may be racist. But if race is not part of the data used to predict crime, I don't see how it could be considered racist.

I didn't realize that asking questions was such a sensitive issue.

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Response to JJChambers (Reply #3)

Thu Feb 27, 2014, 05:21 PM

4. I'll tell you why I don't want to answer your question, because you're being obsessively silly

I posted a story about real life pre-crime, the presumption of guilt by the state and invasion of privacy, and all you're focusing on is the racial component, which in my opinion is the minor part of it.

Everything that I posted came directly out of the source material, without any input from myself, with the exception of the pre-crime logo and caption. I'm not the person that you should be asking whether or not it's racial, that's something that you should direct towards the article's author… Or perhaps the subjects being interviewed.

But no, you've decided to shift the focus, right off the bat , towards the ONLY aspect of the story that YOU'RE singularly concerned about, which is race. You've been doing this quite a bit, even in other threads.

Well, that's your bag, baby. Run with it. You won't find me obstructing you.

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Response to MrScorpio (Reply #4)

Thu Feb 27, 2014, 05:31 PM

7. Sorry

 

I thought race WAS your main point, as it was featured in the title of the OP. My response seemed like a good question to answer in order to answer the question in the title (is it racist?).

I disagree that this system presumes guilt or innocence; it doesn't presuppose anyone is guilty of anything. My understanding is that the system uses data to identify at-risk individuals and then dispatches officers to talk with those individuals. I would rather see a short, consensual visit from police before a murder than a SWAT raid after a murder.

Maybe the system won't work. Maybe it will be a failure. But maybe it won't. Our current system isn't working and I applaud CPDs efforts to at least try something new.

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Response to JJChambers (Reply #7)

Thu Feb 27, 2014, 05:37 PM

9. It's pure intimidation by the police department for absolutely no good reason at all

Anyone getting these unsolicited visits should be outraged by this behavior.

It's total bullshit.

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Response to MrScorpio (Reply #9)

Thu Feb 27, 2014, 05:52 PM

11. We will have to agree to disagree

 

But still, it's a good thread and could provide some thought provoking debate.

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Response to JJChambers (Reply #7)

Thu Feb 27, 2014, 05:48 PM

10. That was my first thought too

Since it was in the title and the program would need it as an input to consider it. A valid question.

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Response to MrScorpio (Original post)

Thu Feb 27, 2014, 05:26 PM

5. I hate the fact that contractors are raking in $$$ hand over fist

by constantly inventing better and more advanced ways to oppress people...

Of course it's the chicken/egg argument...If police departments weren't overfunded, they couldn't be searching nonstop for ways to spend their cash -- Usually on the latest high-tech fad....

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Response to Blue_Tires (Reply #5)

Thu Feb 27, 2014, 05:29 PM

6. Shit, yeah… Follow the money

I would be quite interested in finding out about the entire contracting process for this debacle.

Someone got paid and someone else in the city government must have had a reason for doing this.

Excellent point.

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Response to MrScorpio (Original post)

Thu Feb 27, 2014, 05:34 PM

8. An interesting idea if it works, but I'm sceptical.

Have they run a randomize controlled test?

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Response to MrScorpio (Original post)

Thu Feb 27, 2014, 07:26 PM

12. They can't even predict the criminals within their ranks.

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