2018/10/01: When an algorithm convicts the defendant in a murder trial… that too is life or death.
Some child protective services use an algorithm to decide which kids to take. The algorithm assigns a risk score based on inputs like how many calls the department has received, and if the parents are hostile towards caseworkers.
Other courts already use an algorithm to figure out the recidivism risk—if a criminal is likely to re-offend. The higher the risk, the longer the sentence.
If I smoked a joint or got in a fight in high school, am I 40% more likely to commit a crime?
Will I be assumed guilty based on probability alone? How can I be sure the algorithm isn’t biased?
When ProPublica analyzed the recidivism algorithm, they found that it was racially biased.
O’Neil Risk Consulting & Algorithmic Auditing is another organization looking into how fair the algorithms used by the justice system are. But they admit that even the audits are subjective to a degree.
That’s pretty scary to have algorithms control the criminal justice system. Due process might be replaced by computer processors.
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