Minority Report: Crime Predicting Algorithms Reveal Racial Bias Towards Blacks. | Gradient

Minority report: Crime predicting algorithms reveal racial bias towards blacks.


Courtrooms across the United States utilize sophisticated algorithms that predict the future criminality of its defendants. Hopefully, by accurately assessing the likelihood of persistent criminality, judges can wisely assign sentences free of bias.

Nah, still racist!

ProPublica analyzed risk scores of over 7,000 people arrested in Broward County, Florida, comparing their scores with their next two years of behavior (the same criteria used by the creators of the algorithm). They found that 20 percent of people predicted to commit a violent crime actually committed said crimes. Also, blacks were more likely to be flagged as future criminals even as they were less likely to commit crimes. Whites defendants had the same inaccuracy in reverse: they were more likely to commit crimes, yet less likely to be flagged as a threat.

Former US Attorney General Eric Holder expressed concern that risk scores might heighten bias, warning the US Sentencing Commission that “they may exacerbate unwarranted and unjust disparities that are already far too common in our criminal justice system and in our society.” Tim Brennan, founder of Northpointe (the creator of the risk score analyzed by ProPublica), while defending his product acknowledged that it’s challenging to create an algorithm with socioeconomic inputs that don’t correlate with race. This means that people that maintain socioeconomic markers of low criminality (like steady employment) can receive lower risk ratings despite their significantly longer track record of criminal behavior. As Napa County  Superior Court Judge Mark Boessenecker said, “A guy who has molested a small child every day for a year could still come out as a low risk because he probably has a job. Meanwhile, a drunk guy will look high risk because he’s homeless.”

In practice, the same biases individuals within the justice system already use to discriminate against black people are baked into the mathematical formulas designed to remove unwarranted racial disparities. Something doesn’t add up.

New Pod Flow: Sounds Good With Branden Harvey “Jason Russell”


Jason is the cofounder of the iconic non-profit Invisible Children which was founded to increase awareness of the horrendous activities of the LRA in Central Africa. Jason was also the director of the iconic Kony 2012 film that took the world by storm. In this two-part interview Jason and Branden talk about what it means to create a movement, what Jason experienced during his breakdown and subsequent recovery, and Jason’s experience in the world of theater.

New Pod Flow: Animalators, “ Aharon Rabinowitz”


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New Pod Flow: In Case You Missed It, Episode 040


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Welcome to Episode IV. This week, Dan spends some time with his favorite singer/songwriter, Matthew Perryman Jones. Matthew and Dan talk about panic attacks, growing up in Atlanta, the way music is informed by pain and suffering and the way music gives freedom.

If you have spent any time watching television in the last decade you have most likely heard one of Mattew’s songs on shows like Grey’s Anatomy, Pretty Little Liars, One Tree Hill and many others. His insightful writing and voice have drawn comparisons to Leonard Cohen and Jeff Buckley, and he is on the short list of songwriters who skillfully weave the deeply philosophical and the vivid utterly human without ever losing sight of either.

To get his new album Cold Answer, (which features the three songs from him you heard on this episode), visit MPJmusic.com.

Subscribe on iTunes.

New Pod Flow: Sounds Good With Branden Harvey “Next Steps After the Presidential Election”


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New Pod Flow: In Case You Missed It, Episode 039


Special Election Edition, President Trump to legalized weed and everything in between.

This week we reflect on the election and discuss our strategies for staying sane.

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Subscribe on iTunes and Stitcher.

New Pod Flow: It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane, It’s a Podcast: Doctor Strange


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