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Member since: 2002
Number of posts: 64,116

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Predictive policing, like 'Minority Report,' comes to New York City ... for real

This is not science fiction. The NYPD and the Miami police department have now contracted out a company named HunchLab to help them institute what they call "predictive policing intelligence." On the HunchLab website, they describe their service like this:

HunchLab is a web-based predictive policing system. Advanced statistical models automatically include concepts such as aoristic temporal analysis, seasonality, risk terrain modeling, near repeats, and collective efficacy to best forecast when and where crimes are likely to emerge. This all lets you focus on one thing: responding.

In other words, using their pre-existing data on arrests and crime, the technology is going to predict new locations for crime so that police can be there to respond before it happens.

I only have one question, and of course it's rhetorical, and we all know the answer: does this system account for widespread racism in policing? If the data that HunchLab is given by the NYPD and the Miami police department to predict future crimes is skewed by wrongful arrests and illegal detentions, which, accounting for the reality that racism in policing has never been properly detailed on any massive scale, then we can reasonably ensure that the predictive policing technology will simply predict more racist police interventions. This is wrong and unethical on a hundred different levels.

How will it account for the reality that this NYPD detective testified under oath that he and others fabricated charges against innocent people to meet quotas? Will it account for the racist reality than in some places far more white people that are pulled over by police are found with drugs and contraband, but a higher percentage of African Americans end up arrested by those same police? If the data the system uses is based on arrests, which it likely does, and not the presence of drugs that should in fact warrant an arrest, we can already determine that this system will do nothing but advance more racist policing.


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