Saturday, October 31, 2015

Data and Civll Rights II

I just got back from the one-day Data and Civil Rights conference organized by Data and Society. As I mentioned in my previous post, the conference operated under Chatham House Rules, which means I can't really reveal any of the specific discussions that went on in the main sessions or the breakout groups.

This was a conference full of civil rights activists, lawyers, policy types, and even police folk. It was a conference where people could get up and proclaim that they hate numbers, to cheers from the audience. Feeling like the odd one out is unfamiliar to me.

But it was full of passion and fire. And very depressing if you think of data analysis and ML as a GOOD THING. Because in this context, it is at best a blunt weapon that is being wielded carelessly and violently.

We've had a good run designing algorithms that tell people what to buy and what to watch. But when these same algorithms start deciding whether people can live their lives on their own terms, then as the cool kids are wont to say:

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