Predictive policing algorithms are racist. They need to be dismantled.

The kids Milner watched being arrested were being set up for a lifetime of biased assessment because of that arrest record. But it wasn’t just their own lives that were affected that day. The data generated by their arrests would have been fed into algorithms that would disproportionately target all young Black people the algorithms assessed. Though by law the algorithms do not use race as a predictor, other variables, such as socioeconomic background, education, and zip code, act as proxies. Even without explicitly considering race, these tools are racist.

A second, related article:


How America Lost Faith in Expertise And Why That’s a Giant Problem

It’s not just that people don’t know a lot about science or politics or geography. They don’t, but that’s an old problem. The bigger concern today is that Americans have reached a point where ignorance—at least regarding what is generally considered established knowledge in public policy—is seen as an actual virtue. To reject the advice of experts is to assert autonomy, a way for Americans to demonstrate their independence from nefarious elites—and insulate their increasingly fragile egos from ever being told they’re wrong…

I fear we are moving beyond a natural skepticism regarding expert claims to the death of the ideal of expertise itself: a Google-fueled, Wikipedia-based, blog-sodden collapse of any division between professionals and laypeople, teachers and students, knowers and wonderers—in other words, between those with achievement in an area and those with none. By the death of expertise, I do not mean the death of actual expert abilities, the knowledge of specific things that sets some people apart from others in various areas. There will always be doctors and lawyers and engineers and other specialists. And most sane people go straight to them if they break a bone or get arrested or need to build a bridge. But that represents a kind of reliance on experts as technicians, the use of established knowledge as an off-the-shelf convenience as desired. “Stitch this cut in my leg, but don’t lecture me about my diet.”

Of course technology perpetuates racism. It was designed that way.

We often call on technology to help solve problems. But when society defines, frames, and represents people of color as “the problem,” those solutions often do more harm than good. We’ve designed facial recognition technologies that target criminal suspects on the basis of skin color. We’ve trained automated risk profiling systems that disproportionately identify Latinx people as illegal immigrants. We’ve devised credit scoring algorithms that disproportionately identify black people as risks and prevent them from buying homes, getting loans, or finding jobs.

It Takes a World to End a Pandemic

Great article for discussing the production of scientific knowledge, shared knowledge, and also the new knowledge and technology theme.

Scientific Cooperation Knows No Boundaries—Fortunately

Infectious diseases, it is commonly said, know no borders, and neither does the knowledge needed to fight them. Scientists around the world routinely share information and collaborate across borders.  The current pandemic has scientists working together on platforms such as Slack, and using new tools, such as machine learning, to rapidly detect the novel coronavirus in tests that use large amounts data from multiple sources. This outbreak has demonstrated in real time how scientific understanding can indeed be a global public good.

How technology is designed to bring out the worst in us

“Technology feels disempowering because we haven’t built it around an honest view of human nature,” says tech critic Tristan Harris.

What is “brain hacking”? Tech insiders on why you should care

Anderson Cooper: Is Silicon Valley programming apps or are they programming people?

Tristan Harris: Inadvertently, whether they want to or not, they are shaping the thoughts and feelings and actions of people. They are programming people. There’s always this narrative that technology’s neutral. And it’s up to us to choose how we use it. This is just not true.

Wikipedia Is the Last Best Place on the Internet

People used to think the crowdsourced encyclopedia represented all that was wrong with the web. Now it’s a beacon of so much that’s right.

By the time the internet came into being, a limitless encyclopedia was not just a natural idea but an obvious one. Yet there was still a sense—even among the pioneers of the web—that, although the substrate was new, the top-down, expert-driven Britannica model should remain in place.