First, we had suspects

First, you had a suspect; then you collected data

Homer’s got a point: do the easy stuff first.

Today, you have data, and find suspects

  • Its algorithms shit where they eat. Software that predicts where crime will occur can easily become a self-fulfilling prophecy. When more police patrol a hotspot, they make more arrests, which lowers property values, which makes it harder for a healthy community to thrive because of a drop in tax revenue.
  • It suffers from reporting bias. If you leave a mattress out on the street in the rich Oakland Heights area, everyone calls the authorities. If you leave one out in the poor parts of Oakland, someone takes a nap. So the source data is questionable in the first place.

Collecting data is easy

  • Searches aren’t crimes. When breast cancer patients searched for medical information, their searches were treated as adult content, because the word “breast” was being broadly interpreted as smut. Even the decisions about what to block are weirdly subjective.
  • All talk, no action. Those who discuss terrorism are probably more open about doing so than the actual bad guys, who (presumably) take steps to hide their actions.
  • Political winds change quickly. A decade after the Russians were America’s allies in World War II, US citizens were being blackballed from jobs and society for consorting with people from the Soviet Union.

A computer is better than you at recognizing things

Have you seen this man?

When computers watch movies for us

Most tourists in Amsterdam look like this anyway.
The other British Broadcasting Corporation: It’s people (or its people).
You know you’re in there.

Tomorrow, you’ll have history, and find data targets

CCTV graffiti, via Wikipedia

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Writer, speaker, accelerant. Intersection of tech & society. Strata, Startupfest, Bitnorth, FWD50. Lean Analytics, Tilt the Windmill, HBS, Just Evil Enough.

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Alistair Croll

Alistair Croll

Writer, speaker, accelerant. Intersection of tech & society. Strata, Startupfest, Bitnorth, FWD50. Lean Analytics, Tilt the Windmill, HBS, Just Evil Enough.

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