mi­nor­ity re­port

The Walrus - - LETTERS -

John Lor­inc is right to raise the is­sue of “al­go­rith­mic bias” in his ex­pla­na­tion of pre­dic­tive polic­ing (“Safety in Num­bers,” April). He is right, too, to call the term some­thing of a mis­nomer: al­go­rithms sim­ply per­pet­u­ate the prej­u­dices of the data they’re fed. Polic­ing strate­gies guided by the use of crime data, which of­ten re­flect ex­ist­ing in­equal­i­ties, such as the over-polic­ing of racial­ized com­mu­ni­ties, might only make mat­ters worse. The fea­tures of the high-crime neigh­bour­hood Lor­inc de­scribes are symp­to­matic of a com­mu­nity that is im­pov­er­ished and un­der­served. The peo­ple who live there need more so­cial pro­grams and bet­ter eco­nomic prospects — not more po­lice of­fi­cers. An al­go­rithm can’t ad­dress the root causes of crime. Joshua Oliver The Wal­rus Ed­i­to­rial Fel­low­ship alum­nus Lon­don, UK

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