Is “Big Data” racist? Why policing by data isn’t necessarily objective

The rise of big data policing rests in part on the belief that data-­based decisions can be more objective, fair, and accurate than traditional policing. Data is data and thus, the thinking goes, not subject to the same subjective errors as human decision making.

But in truth, algorithms encode both error and bias. As David Vladeck, the former director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection at the Federal Trade Commission (who was, thus, in charge of much of the law surrounding big data consumer protection), once warned, “Algorithms may also be imperfect decisional tools.

Author: Andrew Ferguson


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