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2017 Pressroom

The ghost in the machine

Wendy M. Grossman - net.wars - 16 June, 2017
“Every kind of classification system – human or machine – has several kinds of errors it might make,” [Patrick Ball] says. “To frame that in a machine learning context, what kind of error do we want the machine to make?” HRDAG’s work on predictive policing shows that “predictive policing” finds patterns in police records, not patterns in occurrence of crime.Read full article off-site

5 Questions for Kristian Lum

Joshua New - Center for Data Innovation - 12 June, 2017
Kristian Lum discusses the challenges of getting accurate data from conflict zones, as well as her concerns about predictive policing if law enforcement gets it wrong.Read full article off-site

Machine learning is being used to uncover the mass graves of Mexico’s missing

Mimi Onuoha - Quartz - 19 April 2017
“Patrick Ball, HRDAG’s Director of Research and the statistician behind the code, explained that the Random Forest classifier was able to predict with 100% accuracy which counties that would go on to have mass graves found in them in 2014 by using the model against data from 2013. The model also predicted the counties that did not have mass hidden graves found in them, but that show a high likelihood of the possibility. This prediction aspect of the model is the part that holds the most potential for future research.”Read full article off-site

Hunting for Mexico’s mass graves with machine learning

J. M. Porup - Ars Technica - 17 April 2017
“The model uses obvious predictor variables, Ball says, such as whether or not a drug lab has been busted in that county, or if the county borders the United States, or the ocean, but also includes less-obvious predictor variables such as the percentage of the county that is mountainous, the presence of highways, and the academic results of primary and secondary school students in the county.”Read full article off-site

Data-driven crime prediction fails to erase human bias

Rachel Ehrenberg - Science News - 8 March 2017
Work by HRDAG researchers Kristian Lum and William Isaac is cited in this article about the Policing Project: “While this bias knows no color or socioeconomic class, Lum and her HRDAG colleague William Isaac demonstrate that it can lead to policing that unfairly targets minorities and those living in poorer neighborhoods.”Read full article off-site

What happens when you look at crime by the numbers

Kathiann Kowalski - Science News for Students - 28 February 2017
Kristian Lum’s work on the HRDAG Policing Project is referred to here: “In fact, Lum argues, it’s not clear how well this model worked at depicting the situation in Oakland. Those data on drug crimes were biased, she now reports. The problem was not deliberate, she says. Rather, data collectors just missed some criminals and crime sites. So data on them never made it into her model.”Read full article off-site

Documenting Syrian Deaths with Data Science

Karthika Swamy Cohen and Lina Sorg - SIAM News Blog - 7 February 2017
Coverage of Megan Price at the Women in Data Science Conference held at Stanford University. “Price discussed her organization’s behind-the-scenes work to collect and analyze data on the ground for human rights advocacy organizations. HRDAG partners with a wide variety of human rights organizations, including local grassroots non-governmental groups and—most notably—multiple branches of the United Nations.”Read full article off-site

Amnesty International Reports Organized Murder Of Detainees In Syrian Prison

Richard Gonzales - NPR the two-way - 6 February 2017
100x100nprReports of torture and disappearances in Syria are not new. But the Amnesty International report says the magnitude and severity of abuse has “increased drastically” since 2011. Citing the Human Rights Data Analysis Group, the report says “at least 17,723 people were killed in government custody between March 2011 and December 2015, an average of 300 deaths each month.”Read full article off-site

How data science is changing the face of human rights

Marlene Den Bleyker - Silicon Angle - 6 February 2017
100x100siliconangleOn the heels of the Women in Data Science conference, HRDAG executive director Megan Price says, “I think creativity and communication are probably the two most important skills for a data scientist to have these days.”Read full article off-site