2018 Press room

Here is a collection of press coverage of the Human Rights Data Analysis Group.

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All the Dead We Cannot See

Katia Savchuk - Pacific Standard - 28 December 2018

Ball, a statistician, has spent the last two decades finding ways to make the silence speak. He helped pioneer the use of formal statistical modeling, and, later, machine learning—tools more often used for e-commerce or digital marketing—to measure human rights violations that weren’t recorded. In Guatemala, his analysis helped convict former dictator General Efraín Ríos Montt of genocide in 2013. It was the first time a former head of state was found guilty of the crime in his own country.

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இறுதி மூன்று நாட்களில் சரணடைந்தோரில் 500 பேர் காணாமல் ஆக்கப்பட்டுள்ளனர்

- namathueelanadu - 13 December 2018

New report published on 500 Tamils missing while in Army custody

- Colombo Gazette - 13 December 2018

The International Truth and Justice Project and HRDAG have published a report on 500 Tamils who disappeared while in Army custody in Sri Lanka in 2009.

The report is titled “How many people disappeared on 17-19 May 2009 in Sri Lanka?” and Patrick Ball, director of research at HRDAG, is the lead author.

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Using statistics to estimate the true scope of the secret killings at the end of the Sri Lankan civil war

Patrick Ball - Boing Boing - 12 December 2018

In the last three days of the Sri Lankan civil war, as thousands of people surrendered to government authorities, hundreds of people were put on buses driven by Army officers. Many were never seen again.

In a report released today (see here), the International Truth and Justice Project for Sri Lanka and the Human Rights Data Analysis Group showed that over 500 people were disappeared on only three days — 17, 18, and 19 May.

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500 Tamils disappeared in Army custody — New Study

- Sri Lanka Guardian - 12 December 2018

The Sri Lankan army must explain to the families of the disappeared and missing what happened to an estimated 500 Tamils who disappeared in their custody at the war end on/around 18 May 2009, said two international NGOs who have been collating and analysing lists of names.

Sri Lanka has one of the largest numbers in the world of enforced disappearances but these 500 represent the largest number of disappearances all in one place and time in the country. For a detailed account of the process of estimating the 500 please see: “How many people disappeared on 17-19 May 2009 in Sri Lanka?” .

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500 Tamils forcibly disappeared in three days, after surrendering to army in 2009

- Tamil Guardian - 12 December 2018

A new study has estimated that over 500 Tamils were forcibly disappeared in just three days, after surrendering to the Sri Lankan army in May 2009.

The study, carried out by the Human Rights Data Analysis Group and the International Truth and Justice Project, based on compiled lists which identify those who were known to have surrendered, estimated that 503 people had been forcibly disappeared between the 17th– 19th of May 2009.

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100 Women in AI Ethics

Mia Dand - Lighthouse3 - 30 October 2018

We live in very challenging times. The pervasiveness of bias in AI algorithms and autonomous “killer” robots looming on the horizon, all necessitate an open discussion and immediate action to address the perils of unchecked AI. The decisions we make today will determine the fate of future generations. Please follow these amazing women and support their work so we can make faster meaningful progress towards a world with safe, beneficial AI that will help and not hurt the future of humanity.

53. Kristian Lum @kldivergence

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Karl E. Peace Award Recognizes Work of Patrick Ball

David Corliss - AMSTAT News - 1 November 2018

The American Statistical Association’s 2018 Karl E. Peace Award for Outstanding Statistical Contributions for the Betterment of Society recently recognized the work of leading human rights mathematician Patrick Ball of the Human Rights Data Analysis Group (HRDAG). The award is presented annually to statisticians whose exemplary statistical research is matched by the impact their work has had on the lives of people.

Established by the family of Karl E. Peace in honor of his work for the good of society, the award—announced at the Joint Statistical Meetings—is bestowed upon distinguished individual(s) who have made substantial contributions to the statistical profession, contributions that have led in direct ways to improving the human condition. Recipients will have demonstrated through their accomplishments their commitment to service for the greater good.”

This year, Ball became the 10th recipient of the award. Read more …

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El problema del asesinato a líderes es más grave de lo que se piensa

- El Espectador - 2 October 2018

Una investigación de Dejusticia y Human Rights Data Analysis Group  asegura que en Colombia hay un subregistro de los asesinatos de líderes sociales que se han perpetrado en Colombia. Al analizar las diferentes cifras de homicidios que han publicado diversas organizaciones desde 2016, se llegó a la conclusión que la problemática es mayor de lo que se cree.

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Unbiased algorithms can still be problematic

Megan Rose Dickey - TechCrunch - 30 September 2018

“Usually, the thing you’re trying to predict in a lot of these cases is something like rearrest,” Lum said. “So even if we are perfectly able to predict that, we’re still left with the problem that the human or systemic or institutional biases are generating biased arrests. And so, you still have to contextualize even your 100 percent accuracy with is the data really measuring what you think it’s measuring? Is the data itself generated by a fair process?”

HRDAG Director of Research Patrick Ball, in agreement with Lum, argued that it’s perhaps more practical to move it away from bias at the individual level and instead call it bias at the institutional or structural level. If a police department, for example, is convinced it needs to police one neighborhood more than another, it’s not as relevant if that officer is a racist individual, he said.

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Los asesinatos de líderes sociales que quedan fuera de las cuentas

Juan Manuel Flórez Arias - El Colombiano - 30 September 2018

Una investigación de Dejusticia y Human Rights Data Analysis Group concluyó que hay un subconteo en los asesinatos de líderes sociales en Colombia. Es decir, que el aumento de estos crímenes en 2016 y 2017 podría ser incluso mayor al reportado por las organizaciones y por las cifras oficiales.

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Situación de líderes sociales “es más grave de lo que se está mostrando”

- Noticias Caracol - 29 September 2018

Video available. La organización Dejusticia, en alianza con una institución estadounidense, asegura que los crímenes van en aumento y existe un subregistro. “Aumentó la violencia letal contra líderes sociales en 2016 y 2017 en al menos 10%”, asegura Valentina Rozo, investigadora de Dejusticia.

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Existe la posibilidad de que no se estén documentando todos los asesinatos contra líderes sociales

- Verdad Abierta - 27 September 2018

En ocasiones, las discusiones sobre ese fenómeno se centran más sobre cuál es la cifra real, mientras que el diagnóstico es el mismo: en las regiones la violencia no cede y no se avizoran políticas efectivas para ponerle fin. En medio de este complejo panorama, el Centro de Estudios de Derecho, Justicia y Sociedad (Dejusticia) y el Human Rights Data Analysis Group, publicaron este miércoles la investigación Asesinatos de líderes sociales en Colombia en 2016–2017: una estimación del universo.

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Cifra de líderes sociales asesinados es más alta: Dejusticia

- KienyKe - 27 September 2018

Contrario a lo que se puede pensar, los datos oficiales sobre líderes sociales asesinados no necesariamente corresponden a la realidad y podría haber mucha mayor victimización en las regiones golpeadas por este flagelo, según el más reciente informe del Centro de Estudios de Justicia, Derecho y Sociedad (Dejusticia) en colaboración con el Human Rights Data Analysis Group.

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What HBR Gets Wrong About Algorithms and Bias

Rachel Thomas - fast.ai - 7 August 2018

“Kristian Lum… organized a workshop together with Elizabeth Bender, a staff attorney for the NY Legal Aid Society and former public defender, and Terrence Wilkerson, an innocent man who had been arrested and could not afford bail. Together, they shared first hand experience about the obstacles and inefficiencies that occur in the legal system, providing valuable context to the debate around COMPAS.”

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Megan Price: Life-Long ‘Math Nerd’ Finds Career in Social Justice

David Corliss - Amstat News - 1 September 2018

“I was always a math nerd. My mother has a polaroid of me in the fourth grade with my science fair project … . It was the history of mathematics. In college, I was a math major for a year and then switched to statistics.

I always wanted to work in social justice. I was raised by hippies, went to protests when I was young. I always felt I had an obligation to make the world a little bit better.”

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Data ‘hashing’ improves estimate of the number of victims in databases

David Ruth - Phys.org - 5 June 2018

But while HRDAG’s estimate relied on the painstaking efforts of human workers to carefully weed out potential duplicate records, hashing with statistical estimation proved to be faster, easier and less expensive. The researchers said hashing also had the important advantage of a sharp confidence interval: The range of error is plus or minus 1,772, or less than 1 percent of the total number of victims.

“The big win from this method is that we can quickly calculate the probable number of unique elements in a dataset with many duplicates,” said Patrick Ball, HRDAG’s director of research. “We can do a lot with this estimate.”

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A better statistical estimation of known Syrian war victims

Jade Boyd - Rice University News and Media - 5 June 2018

Researchers from Rice University and Duke University are using the tools of statistics and data science in collaboration with Human Rights Data Analysis Group (HRDAG) to accurately and efficiently estimate the number of identified victims killed in the Syrian civil war.

Using records from four databases of people killed in the Syrian war, Chen, Duke statistician and machine learning expert Rebecca Steorts and Rice computer scientist Anshumali Shrivastava estimated there were 191,874 unique individuals documented from March 2011 to April 2014. That’s very close to the estimate of 191,369 compiled in 2014 by HRDAG, a nonprofit that helps build scientifically defensible, evidence-based arguments of human rights violations.

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The Data Scientist Helping to Create Ethical Robots

Ellen Huet - Bloomberg - 15 May 2018

Kristian Lum is focusing on artificial intelligence and the controversial use of predictive policing and sentencing programs.

What’s the relationship between statistics and AI and machine learning?

AI seems to be a sort of catchall for predictive modeling and computer modeling. There was this great tweet that said something like, “It’s AI when you’re trying to raise money, ML when you’re trying to hire developers, and statistics when you’re actually doing it.” I thought that was pretty accurate.

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Celebrating Women in Statistics

- AMSTAT News - 1 March 2018

kristian lum headshot 2018In her work on statistical issues in criminal justice, Lum has studied uses of predictive policing—machine learning models to predict who will commit future crime or where it will occur. In her work, she has demonstrated that if the training data encodes historical patterns of racially disparate enforcement, predictions from software trained with this data will reinforce and—in some cases—amplify this bias. She also currently works on statistical issues related to criminal “risk assessment” models used to inform judicial decision-making. As part of this thread, she has developed statistical methods for removing sensitive information from training data, guaranteeing “fair” predictions with respect to sensitive variables such as race and gender. Lum is active in the fairness, accountability, and transparency (FAT) community and serves on the steering committee of FAT, a conference that brings together researchers and practitioners interested in fairness, accountability, and transparency in socio-technical systems.

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