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Innocent Until Predicted Guilty

kdawson posted about 4 years ago | from the no-telepaths-yet dept.

Government 430

theodp writes "Gizmodo has an angry piece on IBM helping Florida to predict how delinquent your child's going to be. The Florida Department of Juvenile Justice has decided to start using IBM predictive analytics software to help them determine which of the 85,000 kids who enter their system each year poses the biggest future threat. From IBM's sales pitch: 'Predictive analytics gives government organizations worldwide a highly-sophisticated and intelligent source to create safer communities by identifying, predicting, responding to and preventing criminal activities. It gives the criminal justice system the ability to draw upon the wealth of data available to detect patterns, make reliable projections and then take the appropriate action in real time to combat crime and protect citizens.'"

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Just hope... (3, Insightful)

the_one_wesp (1785252) | about 4 years ago | (#31871146)

your child doesn't fall into the minority report.

Re:Just hope... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31871192)

Who knows...


IBM? Tracking people deemed troublesome to people in government?
Invoking Godwin's Law in 3...2...1...

Re:Just hope... (1)

ShadowRangerRIT (1301549) | about 4 years ago | (#31871318)

IBM? Tracking people deemed troublesome to people in government? Invoking Godwin's Law in 3...2...1...

Yeah, that was one of my original thoughts. IBM really doesn't need this kind of PR. I grew up being told how IBM enabled the Holocaust, and they really don't need to bring that association to mind in a state with a large population of elderly Jews.

That said, there is a big difference between tracking random citizens and essentially creating a preliminary psychological profile of juvenile offenders. By and large, I don't mind taking fingerprints and DNA from people who have been convicted in a court of law. As long as they don't arrest the "high probability offenders" pre-emptively, or use it at trial to prejudice the jury, I'm fine with it.

Re:Just hope... (5, Interesting)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 4 years ago | (#31871522)

Do you think that there is any realistic chance that having a Respected Criminologist(who knows how to wear a suit that makes him look like a respected authority figure; but not a pointy-headed academic) tell the jury that the Totally Trustworthy and Extremely Sophisticated Computer System has determined that the punk-ass kid currently in the dock before you is an incipient menace won't be a completely standard part of prosecution down there within a few years?

Despite the combined efforts of virtually every major consumer software vendor, Joe Public still somehow trusts computers and thinks of them as authoritative. DAs and prosecutors will absolutely eat that shit up, as will jurors.

It is a minority report! (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31871252)

int riskLevel = 0;
if(child.Race == "Nigger" || child.Race == "Spick")
    riskLevel += 10;
else if(child.IsGullibleEnoughForFauxNews) //no niggers or spicks watch Faux News.

Re:It is a minority report! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31871494)

I don't think blacks should be exterminated, I only think that they should be slaves. It's a proven fact that blacks have lower brain capacity and lower ambition than people of other races. They should be treated as the beasts of burden that they are.

Re:Just hope... (2, Insightful)

BobMcD (601576) | about 4 years ago | (#31871682)

Just hope your child doesn't fall into the minority report.

If one or both of my sons are prone to be a criminal, I'd be glad to see it on a report before it happened.

I'd either work like hell to change them or spy on them be the first to rat them out.

I don't want my sons in jail, but more so I don't want my sons harming society, killing other sons and daughters, etc. I brought them into this world, and they're (at least somewhat) my responsibility.

Self-fulfilling Prophecy? (5, Insightful)

Great Big Bird (1751616) | about 4 years ago | (#31871162)

It seems to me that if the government thinks it can predict these things and takes certain actions in prevention, it might actually cause the problem that is predicted, and thus validate the method.

Re:Self-fulfilling Prophecy? (4, Informative)

afidel (530433) | about 4 years ago | (#31871240)

Uh, this is more like using actuary tables to predict your likelyhood of having an accident and adjusting your rates based on that statistic model. It can probably be used to sort kids into things like soft first time offenders programs, bootcamps, or juvenile detention.

Re:Self-fulfilling Prophecy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31871288)

"It can probably be used to sort kids into things like soft first time offenders programs, bootcamps, or juvenile detention."

Good point. I guess this would be for the same type of offense committed?

Re:Self-fulfilling Prophecy? (1)

afidel (530433) | about 4 years ago | (#31871362)

Sure, or at least same class (like Misdemeanor II, Felony III, etc).

Re:Self-fulfilling Prophecy? (1)

Nadaka (224565) | about 4 years ago | (#31871526)

So are you suggesting that those with higher risk factors receive harsher punishment? or lesser?

One of the biggest risk factors in the "criminality" of someone may be having this program identify you as a likely criminal. It is well known that harsh punishments are very strongly correlated with subsequent social dysfunction.

Re:Self-fulfilling Prophecy? (1)

afidel (530433) | about 4 years ago | (#31871568)

Uh, I'm saying that an ideal algorithm would pick the best (most likely to result in non-recidivism) program for the offender to avoid future costs to the individual and society, that's kind of the point of having more options than just throwing everyone into juvenile hall for x months for offense y.

Re:Self-fulfilling Prophecy? (4, Insightful)

Nadaka (224565) | about 4 years ago | (#31871638)

I can do that without giving IBM millions of dollars.

Its called nurturing, education and providing the opportunity to succeed.

Re:Self-fulfilling Prophecy? (3, Insightful)

DreamsAreOkToo (1414963) | about 4 years ago | (#31871372)

It can probably be helpful in the same vein as the patriot act, warrant-less wiretapping, and many other government uber-powers.

Re:Self-fulfilling Prophecy? (1)

Hijacked Public (999535) | about 4 years ago | (#31871388)

Which is all well and good if it works, and there are some decent prediction models and a whole lot of terrible ones.

It would be nice and comforting, as this thing moves along, if data about accuracy of the predictions was made available, but I doubt it will be.

Re:Self-fulfilling Prophecy? (1)

afidel (530433) | about 4 years ago | (#31871424)

FOIA requests should make it possible to track the reliability is someone wants to put in the effort.

Re:Self-fulfilling Prophecy? (4, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 4 years ago | (#31871560)

If Sheriff Joe Arpaio's popularity is anything to go by, I suspect information on predictive accuracy, even if available, will have depressingly little impact on public opinion.

A disturbing number of people seem to operate on the belief that there are two kinds of defendants: "Guilty" and "Guilty; but goddam liberal bleeding hear trial lawyers got them off on a technicality".

Re:Self-fulfilling Prophecy? (1)

cream wobbly (1102689) | about 4 years ago | (#31871606)

Your likelihood of having an accident is based on age, postal code, prior accidents, convictions, and certain health conditions and medications.

In other words things that don't predict your likelihood of having an accident, but the general population's.

In other words, pigeonholing.

In other words, conscientiousness doesn't pay off.

In other words, another nail in the coffin for America's education system.

It's Florida. There's a reason for the tag in FARK (4, Informative)

VShael (62735) | about 4 years ago | (#31871178)

Florida is insane, in the same way that senile demented octogenarians are insane. They never think past tomorrow, because they don't know if they're going to live until tomorrow. All that matters is today, the pudding, and Matlock.

Predicting whether a kid will be a Republican. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31871250)

Statistical analysis to predict whether a child will grow up to become a Republican is probably enough to determine if they'll become involved in criminal activities in the future.

If the past is any indication, Republicans seem to have a propensity towards killing abortion doctors, starting wars in foreign lands, and promoting the torture and killing of innocent foreign civilians.

Re:Predicting whether a kid will be a Republican. (1)

BobMcD (601576) | about 4 years ago | (#31871742)

If the past is any indication, Republicans seem to have a propensity towards killing abortion doctors, starting wars in foreign lands, and promoting the torture and killing of innocent foreign civilians.

FDR was which? And Truman? And Clinton? And Obama?

Since only Republicans ever order killings, I'm sure the Democrats will be sad to hear their political party has been absorbed.

Re:It's Florida. There's a reason for the tag in F (2, Funny)

dwiget001 (1073738) | about 4 years ago | (#31871380)

Actually, this is not an "octogenarian" problem.

It is a problem of having bloated and pretty much do-nothing administration.

Disclaimer: I live in this hell-hole jokingly called "God's Waiting Room".

Minority Report! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31871186)

But without that glorious touchscreen screens. And Tom Cruise.

Jeeze (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31871188)

You guys are being pretty hard on IBM. They're just providing computing and analytical power. You're acting like they collaborated with the Nazis or something.

Re:Jeeze (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31871600)

You obviously fail to realize that Obama is Hitler reincarnated.

The best part! (5, Insightful)

rotide (1015173) | about 4 years ago | (#31871190)

The best part is, if the software doesn't currently consider you a "threat" we can always tweak it to push you over the threshold! Remember that come next election, or next time you purchase something we don't think you should, or even the next time you pass us and don't give us a compliment!

History repeats again ... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31871194)

IBM has a strong record track of helping governments to track citizens, say, remember 1935-1945 era ?

Really? (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31871198)

Minority Report anyone?

Only useful when analyzing groups (1)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | about 4 years ago | (#31871200)

You can't make any inference about any particular individual based upon group characteristics.

Re:Only useful when analyzing groups (2, Insightful)

afidel (530433) | about 4 years ago | (#31871270)

Sure you can, the entire insurance industry is based on doing just that.

Re:Only useful when analyzing groups (2, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 4 years ago | (#31871330)

Sure you can. You just can't be particularly sure that it'll be accurate.

Luckily, the people most likely to be (questionably accurately) judged to be pre-crime risks are likely to be members of more or less unsympathetic and disliked groups, so the people who actually count won't much care whether you are accurate or not. If anything, the "good upstanding citizens" will howl with rage and demand that they tolerance for false positives be increased every time the blood-spattered story of a false negative hits the cable news...

Re:Only useful when analyzing groups (4, Informative)

bws111 (1216812) | about 4 years ago | (#31871746)

There is nothing about this that is 'pre-crime' or would have 'false positives'. This is about how to determine what to with people who have already entered the juvenile justice system (ie. post-crime), to try to rehab them. So, the question is, can analysis of risk factors for recidivism actual prevent recidivism? I don't know, but it seems silly to just dismiss it out of hand.

Predict future criminals (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31871212)

Soon we'll be able to predict crimes such as muder far in advance, which will allow us to put those scumbags in cryofreeze well before they even commit the crimes!

Thoughtcrime (1)

flythebike (1587733) | about 4 years ago | (#31871216)

Yet another science fiction becomes true life kind of story.

Re:Thoughtcrime (2, Insightful)

rotide (1015173) | about 4 years ago | (#31871258)

This isn't even thought crime. That at least requires you to think about doing something "subversive". This merely requires an arbitrary set of parameters to flag you as potentially "subversive". No thought required.

Re:Thoughtcrime (5, Informative)

res1216 (1785928) | about 4 years ago | (#31871484)

Of course, if you'd bothered to read TFA (and were able to ignore the author's histrionics), you'd realize that the idea is to use this technology to differentially sentence offenders based on the likelihood of recidivism. That is, juveniles who have already committed a crime.

Does it work for white collar crime? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31871224)

Do predictive analytics work for other demographics as well, e.g. middle aged white man from prominent Ivy League university running an energy company more likely to steal billions of dollars over young Latino kid living in downtown Miami?

Re:Does it work for white collar crime? (1)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | about 4 years ago | (#31871286)

How would a Latino kid ever get access to billions of dollars?

Re:Does it work for white collar crime? (1)

trurl7 (663880) | about 4 years ago | (#31871418)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carlos_Slim [wikipedia.org]

Cheating, lying, stealing, breaking the law...you know, same way white people do it.

Re:Does it work for white collar crime? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31871510)

Couldn't agree more, hey IBM how about a benchmark test?
Place Bernard Madoff's childhood data into that software and publish the results!

But who's worse IBM or Florida's government officials responsible for this waste of taxpayers money?

Re:Does it work for white collar crime? (1)

rcamans (252182) | about 4 years ago | (#31871536)

Uh, we do not need analytics for that. If they work for the gov, and especially if they are politicians, they have a high probability of coruption in thier future. Especially open to bribes from big corporations like IBM...
Who's knocking on my door?

Re:Does it work for white collar crime? (4, Insightful)

SailorSpork (1080153) | about 4 years ago | (#31871578)

If they had a database of hundreds or thousands of Ivy League Energy Company-running Billion-Dollar embezzlers to get statistically relevant information from, then yes. It may be slower to build that predictive database than to build the Street Kid From Miami database, not because of racial considerations, but because of number of incidents recorded.

For the Ivy League guy, we need a more classical predictive model: "Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely." The algorithms will come eventually.

I know just where to use it first... (5, Insightful)

Genda (560240) | about 4 years ago | (#31871256)

I believe the best use of this technology is as a means for monitoring our government officials and representatives (starting with the folks thinking about using it here.) It is arguable that the harm done by the average juvenile delinquent pales in comparison to the social and economic harm done by politicians and lawless officials. We should be using predictive technology keep them in check, and ensure that liberty is being preserved for future generations...

Re:I know just where to use it first... (2, Insightful)

Quantos (1327889) | about 4 years ago | (#31871456)

Unfortunately this could also lead to compulsory sterilization for certain classes of people and risk groups(which has been tried before and failed miserably). Which is not only unethical, but it removes peoples right to choose their own lives destiny. How many people will wind up with this stigma because it won't work the way they hope it will.

There is no amount of accumulated data that will tell them which people are capable and willing to change their behavior so that they can be an integral part of society.

Re:I know just where to use it first... (2, Insightful)

poena.dare (306891) | about 4 years ago | (#31871662)

You have a point. FL's been rocked by a number of scandals where Human Services employees repeated failed to check on foster kids and the kids were starved or beaten to death. Sounds like predictive software should be used to predict which HS employees are failing to do their job.

What could go wrong? (1)

WCMI92 (592436) | about 4 years ago | (#31871266)

It seems that all the worst things in the movies "Demolition Man" and "Minority Report" are coming true, aren't they?

Re:What could go wrong? (4, Insightful)

QuantumG (50515) | about 4 years ago | (#31871348)

Sandra Bullock and Tom Cruise are doing a movie together? I'm not sure my gag reflex is strong enough for that.

Overblown (4, Insightful)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | about 4 years ago | (#31871292)

Okay, all I see here is a slippery slope argument. Juvenile delinquents who have been convicted of a crime are generally sentenced to probation, attendance in educational programs, counseling, etc. The only difference here is now they're using computer models to decide which programs are most appropriate for a given youth based upon the data they put in... instead of the court making the decision based upon a less complete set of data and a less methodical prediction of what would work best for that individual.

Now I'm not saying IBM's system works. It may or may not and that needs to be carefully studied. I have no problem, however, with computer models being used to determine which juvenile delinquents are most likely to benefit from specific programs and which are most in need of them when resources are limited. Appeals to various constitutional amendments are just empty rhetoric, given these kids have been convicted of a crime and this is part of their rehabilitation. In fact this whole article looks like an excuse for sensationalism and a reason to display cool graphics from "Minority Report". Lame Mr. Diaz.

hmm (2)

nomadic (141991) | about 4 years ago | (#31871296)

The story doesn't give too much information, it's just a rant; I'm curious as to what "education" is going to take place; maybe it's a good thing.

Are we sure that's all bad? (3, Interesting)

Just Some Guy (3352) | about 4 years ago | (#31871298)

I imagine that the software is a Bayesian filter that takes in lots of seemingly unrelated factors and combines them into a score. First, yeah, I get the obvious dystopian implications - I won't argue against the awful possibilities if it were widely deployed. That said, isn't it possible that it could genuinely help some kids? Suppose those factors like increased absences and a couple of minor contacts with police indicate that Johnny is extremely likely to drop out of school. Maybe that's a good hint that someone needs to talk to Johnny and see if something correctable is going on in his life.

Re:Are we sure that's all bad? (4, Insightful)

MarbleMunkey (1495379) | about 4 years ago | (#31871574)

Suppose those factors like increased absences and a couple of minor contacts with police indicate that Johnny is extremely likely to drop out of school. Maybe that's a good hint that someone needs to talk to Johnny and see if something correctable is going on in his life.

But that's not what's happening in our schools already; Just look at the Zero Tolerance statutes!

Do you really think that the same people who would expel a 9th grade girl for bringing a butter knife to school [go.com] can be trusted to be rational with this kind of information?

Re:Are we sure that's all bad? (1)

Just Some Guy (3352) | about 4 years ago | (#31871608)

But that's not what's happening in our schools already; Just look at the Zero Tolerance statutes!

Oh, I hear you and I agree completely. Like so many other things done in the name of security, the downsides are a lot easier to see than any marginal advantages.

you gotta be kiddin (1)

delta98 (619010) | about 4 years ago | (#31871312)

Really. Really? I couldn't think of a bigger fucking hand job waste of time and money. How about responsibility. Wait, I can think of a better waste but I'll leave that up to Southpark.

Minority Report (1)

overlordofmu (1422163) | about 4 years ago | (#31871320)

Can it predict when we will get a minority report? Can it predict when a story will be so corrupted that there is no minority report in a movie called "Minority Report"?

So flawed it's absurd. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31871322)

I'd love to run some test benchmarks on that "highly predictive analitical system" with input data of someone like, Bernard Madoff's childhood history?

What a ridiculous waste of tax payers money, i lost whatever minimal respect i had for IBM.

Re:So flawed it's absurd. (1)

ShadowRangerRIT (1301549) | about 4 years ago | (#31871382)

Hey, IBM is making out like a bandit. A corporation doesn't do things for the public good, they do it for the bottom line. Lose your respect (if you had any left) for Florida's elected officials. Personally, I had none left to lose, but then, I read Carl Hiaasen's column [miamiherald.com] in the Miami Herald, which is a great way to completely disillusion yourself.

It all depends... (5, Interesting)

MojoRilla (591502) | about 4 years ago | (#31871368)

It all depends on what they do with this software. My reading of this article is that this is an expert system for judges who sentence juvenile offenders. Typically judges have discretion in sentencing youth. They research the background, number of offenses, etc of the offender and pick an appropriate program. However, they don't have all the data to make a better decision. Do Latino youth who committed a second non-violent offense respond better (get arrested less often in the future) to mental health treatments, mentoring programs, or incarceration?

This system seems to automate this process. So it is possible it will save money and produce better results than the current system, while still maintaining fairness. After all, if you have committed a crime, both the maximum and minimum penalties for what you did should be fair outcomes.

Uncomfortable truths. (1)

BlueKitties (1541613) | about 4 years ago | (#31871370)

Using statistical patterns is good Science, at least until it makes us uncomfortable. As a simple matter of the-universe-doesn't-care-if-it-isn't-fair, some people really are "more likely" to break the law. But, heaven forbid, we give extra attention to them. If we give "underprivileged" children positive attention, we're good citizens. The moment we give extra attention to someone for anything that could possibly be construed as negative, we're not only evil we "don't understand Science." Sadly, there is a fine line between being moral, and realizing the world doesn't always care what politically correct sentiments say.

Re:Uncomfortable truths. (1)

Altus (1034) | about 4 years ago | (#31871686)

do you really think this will be used to give positive attention to children who are at a high risk of becoming offenders?

More likely it will lead to stiffer juvenile penalties for high risk kids. Punishing them based on what we believe they might do in the future.

100% predictive: beat everyone, lock them up (1)

noidentity (188756) | about 4 years ago | (#31871396)

So if this predicts that Johnny will be a criminal later in life, we can keep him under constant watch and limit his activities. Then when all this mistreatment causes him to become a criminal, we can declare success. Reminds me of the way teachers see some students as gifted, and thus given them extra attention etc., ensuring their predictions come true, and validating their method.

Manipulate the data. (1)

noahisaac (956470) | about 4 years ago | (#31871430)

Not to be to 4chan-ish, but is anyone here a kid in Florida?

If so, figure out what IBM's criteria are, set youself up as an at-risk kid by doing some of those criteria, and then lead a normal law-abiding life.

If IBM's data and results turn out to be crap, nobody will want to use this service.

Re:Manipulate the data. (1)

VShael (62735) | about 4 years ago | (#31871496)

That's great! Because a single isolated counter-example will totally bring the system crashing to halt in twenty or thirty years.

Re:Manipulate the data. (1)

noahisaac (956470) | about 4 years ago | (#31871602)

How about not a single example, but a statistically significant number of kids? I don't think the turnaround would be 20-30 years, either. More like until the next election cycle when this is exposed for the waste of taxpayer money that it is.

Well... (1)

hkdm (1721140) | about 4 years ago | (#31871434)

Florida is an elephant graveyard. IBM will have to code it with punch cards so the population can understand what's going on.

I have the source code (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31871442)

if (child.gender=male && child.race=black) behavioralproblems=true;

What is the problem? (4, Interesting)

kenp2002 (545495) | about 4 years ago | (#31871452)

Any reason why we are angry with this? The whole point appears to identify at-risk kids and make sure they get the support they need.

A: Kid is from a low income family
B: Kid lives in drug ridden neighborhood
C: Kid eats twice a day
D: Kid is in a single parent home

Kid is BLAH BLAH% likely to commit a violent crime.

A is 38% weighted
B: is 14% weighted
C: is 17% weighted
D: is 9% weighted

Per $ ROI indicates that an additional $4.22 spent weekly on school lunch program (C) will save $19.22 over 10 years in reduced criminal activity.

Blah blah blah...

Seems par for the course...

Re:What is the problem? (0, Flamebait)

VShael (62735) | about 4 years ago | (#31871532)

The whole point appears to identify at-risk kids and make sure they get the support they need.

I didn't think there were any humans with this level of naiveté outside of a museum exhibit. A living specimen! In the 21st century!

Re:What is the problem? (2, Interesting)

thijsh (910751) | about 4 years ago | (#31871726)

Don't be sarcastic... I work exactly in this line of work, and we use the above identifiers A-D (and others) to determine if a child is at risk of developing social and psychological problems... when a child has an indication they can give them help, and since this is a rough pre-selection they can start with very non-invasive projects at the school. It's exactly to prevent some children from falling trough the cracks and only getting help when they are a troubled (criminal) teen, because it's become a problem for them and society by then.
br We have a professor at the university working on the data to check what indications we can use best (and SPSS is widely used for finding those correlations). When the professor is done my programmer collegues and me will build an online tool that will help professionals to quickly gage if there is a reason why a child could develop problems (this is tough to do by hand since it can be surprizingly counter-intuitive).

Re:What is the problem? (1)

DaveV1.0 (203135) | about 4 years ago | (#31871750)

Nice ad hominem attack, but you do not refute anything he says.

Please explain in detail how he is wrong or STFU.

Re:What is the problem? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31871680)

Any reason why we are angry with this? The whole point appears to identify at-risk kids and make sure they get the support they need.

Because if you write "predicting criminality among people based on certain characteristics" they see "assuming that people with some characteristic X,Y or Z are all criminals and punishing them in advance, you know, like in that movies".

In sort, because they can't fucking read.

Re:What is the problem? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31871722)

The downside is if it were used to single out kids

Kid A: from high income family
Kid B: from lower income family

Kid A in 2nd grade is pulled out of 'normal' classes to be put in 'special' classes because he will accel more there.
Kid B in 2nd grade is pulled out of 'normal' classes to be put in 'special' classes because he needs more attention.

But what if kid a is moron and it is kid b that needs to be in the better classes? Statistically on average it will 'work out' but at a cost to individuals. It can even become self defeating. Kid B is always put in remedial classes and is never really challenged. So by the time he shows up for high school graduation he thinks he is 'dumb'. I have known many people like this. I then show them that they *CAN* be smart if they want to be.

Take my gf for example 'i suck at math'. She is one of the smartest math people I know she just will not accept it. She told me how in 4th grade how she did division. She was shocked when I told her she is the only person I met that figured out how to divide by re-discovering newtons method, in 4th fucking grade. But her parents and teachers re-enforced that she 'sucked at math'. So now she can do simple algebra but thinks she would fail higher level classes. Taking her shopping is cool as she is a human calculator :).

IBM has learned from their past work (1)

AHuxley (892839) | about 4 years ago | (#31871462)

In the past the next generation of internal "future threats" was dealt with one of two ways.
The burn now or work to death and burn later camp lines.
Why not sort internal populations with more care?
Good kids get full scholarships.
If your part of the system you should be productive.
Stable kids get to join City Year.
Your useful and might still get that scholarship.
Big pharma has a chemical solution for the rest.
Feel happy working to death over decades.
Safer communities for all.

Ahh, good intentions all around I think (1)

phrackwulf (589741) | about 4 years ago | (#31871480)

It's hard to get angry at a bunch of engineers and government civil servants taking the next logical step in pattern recognition. Everybody involved is just individually contributing to a possible aid in dealing with a social problem. Let's face it, the most widely damaging forms of "evil" are rarely done by "evil" people. The next question I would also have would be, "what is the back end in this particular predictive system?" Are the consequences for the identified person punitive or does he or she get the help that he or she might need? Is this system designed to launch flowers at the target or bullets?

As someone who is studying to be a teacher (4, Interesting)

linzeal (197905) | about 4 years ago | (#31871504)

The average child's behavior does have the potential to reliably predict future social and behavior patterns for the individual; however, there are outliers of varying types who would not be well served by this attempt at divining the 'future history' of individual human beings. Here are some of the types I have noticed.

1. Situational issues such as abuse at home that cause anger, frustration and inappropriate behavior at school. Children's brains are luckily plastic enough to rewire themselves when presented with a new environment that is far more nurturing, safe and empowering.

2. Schools/Neighborhoods that have been left to become warrens of crime will produce children that seek criminal behavior to 'fit in', even if they are articulate and attentive in class they may be encountering overwhelming peer pressure to conform to another set of behaviors outside the classroom or face ostracization.

3. Mentally ill children who go unmedicated can be hellions the days they don't take their meds and perfectly reasonable mature human beings when they do. The flip side of this, is dealing with the many popular NT rich kids whose parents have gotten them adderall prescriptions babbling in the back of the classroom and acting hyper aggressive on the playground.

4. Police provoked violence/crimes. I did some student teaching in a High School which shall remain unnamed and the MO of the high school police was to find the 'troublemakers' smoking cigarettes across from the school or in the alleyways surrounding and set up a cop car on one side of them and try to herd them towards it, if they ran they tried to take them down with tackling and submission holds. The kids got suspended and charged with resisting arrest at the very least some got thrown in Juvi all for smoking a cig and being confronted by a dickish bunch of cops.

hmmmmmm...... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31871508)

So their back in the business of helping a goverment keep a count on undesirables. Ring any bells?

SPSS since 1968!!! (2, Informative)

thijsh (910751) | about 4 years ago | (#31871524)

This isn't news. SPSS already exists since 1968, and is now on version 18 of the software. IBM just bought the program in 2009. For those who never heard of the program: it's a souped up Excel with advanced statistics and datamining. Here at my work (public health department in Amsterdam) they use it a lot for scientific studies of health, surveys etc. In fact the use of SPSS in the field of research is so widespread for many years already it's strange they only replaced Excel with it now...

I'd guess Slashdot geeks would really like it since you can program some nice stuff in a pseudo SQL script language (I don't know the name of it), but if you've ever seen it you'll know that SYSMIS sorta means NULL.

How about a GPS chips behind the eyes?? (0, Troll)

viraltus (1102365) | about 4 years ago | (#31871534)

This way everytime a crime is committed we would have the location of the persons involved and only blind people could not be trace... unless you buy eyes in the black market from a Japanese but then three psiques teaming-up would be able to predict... er.. wait a minute.

Should Be: Proven Guilty Then Threat Assessed (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31871554)

The purpose is not to predict guilt in the innocent, it is to assess the threat of individuals already proven guilty. If you carefully read the article, they are applying this predictive analytics software to children that have already committed an offence - the 85,000 kids that enter the Florida Juvenile Justice system each year because of criminal actions.

If they start to apply this to all children, then yes we have a problem. At present, they are just trying to sort the existing offenders by threat of re-offence so as to work on correcting the behaviour of those kids at greatest risk to re-offend. This is a laudable goal, and if it helps to reduce the risk of re-offence then they have my support.

In the interest of full disclosure, when I was a kid I got in with a bad group and ended up getting charged with shoplifting. The system at the time (20 years ago) didn't do anything substantial to try and prevent the chances of my re-offending. I was simply lucky that my parents reacted appropriately and put me on the right path. Some of the kids I was hanging around with weren't so lucky, and they went on to bigger and badder crimes. I would have been right there with them if I hadn't had a firm support system guiding me.

In those cases where the parents of a young offender will not step up, I think it is society's responsibility to act. To me, this software is part of that solution.

crime prevention? how about... (1)

kj_kabaje (1241696) | about 4 years ago | (#31871576)

At the risk of being modded into oblivion: The whole crime prediction thing often uses predictor variables that correlate highly with educational and economic opportunity. How about we just call it needs based intervention? If we know what risk factors are for kids, e.g., they didn't eat breakfast or have a learning disability, perhaps we could invest more resources into at risk kids (e.g., fully fund after school programs).

Wrong movie/book to invoke (4, Interesting)

jayhawk88 (160512) | about 4 years ago | (#31871582)

Gizmodo links this technology to Minority Report, and certainly not without cause, but the movie that really ought to worry you here is Gattaca. What happens to kids this software flags with a high potential for future criminal activity? If companies start taking this data seriously, a lot of them won't be hiring these kids. And while it was genetics that was the profiling mechanism in Gattaca, considering we've already cracked the human genome, it can only be a matter of time before someone decides to take a similar piece of software and run it against someone's DNA.

Re:Wrong movie/book to invoke (1)

thijsh (910751) | about 4 years ago | (#31871756)

The 'criminal gene' has already been debunked. Reality is much more complex than such a simple fix... But you are right this is data that can be abused and has to be kept private.

Missing something? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31871584)

"...make reliable projections and then take the appropriate action in real time to combat crime and protect citizens." ... and help get the child the resources they need to hopefully find other options besides crime? Right?


Nothing New (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31871596)

My mother who was a second grade teacher for many years, and believed she could predict with high correlation which kids would be felons. Is this passing sentence? No perhaps it is a way to identify kids in situations that need help. However there are some parents that will provide the poor situation and then defend it with no one can tell me how to raise MY kid. I contend you could do the same as this great data mining experiment by just asking the kids teachers... I guess if it comes from the computer then it's perceived to be unbiased.

Better a machine... (3, Insightful)

res1216 (1785928) | about 4 years ago | (#31871652)

Let's stop pretending that this is anything but a technological tool for doing what is already happening. Individuals are already differentially sentenced for all kinds of reasons, many of them terrible. Far better to use well-understood machine-learning/data-mining techniques instead of the discretion of individual judges and all its attendant biases.

N.B. This obviously has the potential for misuse (e.g. the first time some political hack suggests it is great for preemption.), but it is not a prima facie violation of individual's rights.

Eternal Vigilance, etc.

Freedom in America (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31871684)

And then what will appen to all suspected "biggest future threats" kids? Tracked for life? A criminal record? Social Services? Special prisons? Or simply terminated?

Why is this wrong? (1)

DrXym (126579) | about 4 years ago | (#31871698)

If a state has thousands of young offenders on file with necessary criminal & rehabilitation data to make predictions of future behaviour, why shouldn't they do it? I assume Florida doesn't have infinite money to spend on probation officers etc., so any tool which allows them to more effectively allocate resources has to be a good thing. That doesn't mean the IBM tool is effective and it would have to prove its worth through some kind of objective study but I don't see any reason in principle they shouldn't do this.

Voting records (1)

SoundGuyNoise (864550) | about 4 years ago | (#31871704)

If I recall my HBO docudramas correctly, wasn't it also Florida that used data from Texas to determine who should be blocked from voting in the 2000 election? Can't Florida do any kind of analysis on their own without using tainted data to start with?

Look at all the FUD (1)

DaveV1.0 (203135) | about 4 years ago | (#31871714)

Let's see. Florida is going to use statistical software to try to identify children, who have already committed crimes, who are most likely to continue to commit, most-likely more serious, crimes and prevent them from going down that path through intervention services such as mentoring, counseling, and community control.

Yes, what a horrible thing to take kids who have started down the path of a criminal life and trying to improve their lives and keep them from committing crimes, becoming drug addicts, and going to jail and/or prison repeatedly. Why, they must be stopped at all costs because these kids would be much better off following the downward spiral of being a repeat-offender criminals.

Early 70's Axiometrics (2, Interesting)

oakbox (414095) | about 4 years ago | (#31871732)

This was almost attempted in the early 70's. Look up the "Hartman Value Profile". It was shot down in flames, I guess the concept of Civil Rights has changed a bit since then . . .

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