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posted by LaminatorX on Wednesday February 26 2014, @11:00PM   Printer-friendly
from the studies-show-poverty-causes-cancer dept.

Angry Jesus writes:

"The Chicago Police Department is mis-applying epidemiological science (the study of entire populations) to target individuals in a real-life version of Minority Report. They have decided that it is a good idea to put people on a secret list based on a Big Data analysis of their social networks. But don't worry, it isn't racist or abusive because, Science!"

 
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  • (Score: 0) by The Mighty Buzzard on Wednesday February 26 2014, @11:51PM

    by The Mighty Buzzard (18) Subscriber Badge <themightybuzzard@proton.me> on Wednesday February 26 2014, @11:51PM (#7643) Homepage Journal

    It doesn't appear that race is used as one of the inputs. That's not 100% proof that something is *not* racist,

    Yes, it is. That is the definition of racism. Dictionary FTW.

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  • (Score: 4, Insightful) by keplr on Thursday February 27 2014, @12:01AM

    by keplr (2104) on Thursday February 27 2014, @12:01AM (#7651) Journal

    You are technically correct, but only in a meaningless, facile way. It's possible to use other criteria as a proxy for creating a racist policy. For example, if I want to disenfranchise black people, I can look up census data on which neighborhoods in a city are poorest and vote Democrat, and then direct the most onerous and stifling voter suppression tactics there. That'll work just fine for such purposes. Yes, you'll catch a lot of people who aren't black too, and a lot of blacks won't be targeted, but when you only need statistical significance it's a perfectly useful tactic--and a racist one, despite never feeding race directly into the equation.

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    • (Score: 2, Interesting) by The Mighty Buzzard on Thursday February 27 2014, @12:11AM

      by The Mighty Buzzard (18) Subscriber Badge <themightybuzzard@proton.me> on Thursday February 27 2014, @12:11AM (#7657) Homepage Journal
      Yes, it is possible but there is a problem there. Someone looking at poor neighbourhoods with higher than mean crime rates and ordering more police patrols is not being racist unless they did it with the intention of arresting more black people. You cannot judge intentions reliably absent evidence, so you do not get to call racism unless you know that race was a component either directly or based on real evidence of the decision-maker's intentions. That he's a cop or white is not evidence.
      --
      My rights don't end where your fear begins.
      • (Score: 3, Insightful) by keplr on Thursday February 27 2014, @12:19AM

        by keplr (2104) on Thursday February 27 2014, @12:19AM (#7659) Journal

        Which tallies exactly with what I said in my original comment. I don't believe this system is racist, but the mere absence of race as data being fed into it is not positive proof that it is not.

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        • (Score: 1) by The Mighty Buzzard on Thursday February 27 2014, @12:36AM

          by The Mighty Buzzard (18) Subscriber Badge <themightybuzzard@proton.me> on Thursday February 27 2014, @12:36AM (#7667) Homepage Journal
          Positive proof, no. Lacking any evidence to the contrary though, it should be assumed that it is not unless your name is Jackson or Sharpton and you make your living by exposing racism where it doesn't exist.
          --
          My rights don't end where your fear begins.
    • (Score: 5, Insightful) by Angry Jesus on Thursday February 27 2014, @12:28AM

      by Angry Jesus (182) on Thursday February 27 2014, @12:28AM (#7663)

      It's possible to use other criteria as a proxy for creating a racist policy. For example, if I want to disenfranchise black people, I can look up census data on which neighborhoods in a city are poorest and vote Democrat, and then direct the most onerous and stifling voter suppression tactics there.

      It doesn't even have to be deliberate. In fact, I don't think it is useful to assume deliberate racism in the creation of these lists. The way modern racism frequently works (at least in the US where there is major social stigma associated with being racist) is that subconscious biases come into play. Practically no one says, "black people are criminals" but they do say things like "people who live in bad neighborhoods are criminals" and "if you live in a bad neighborhood that's your choice" because they've never lived in a bad neighborhood themselves.

      I think that racism in modern america is more a case of ignorance about the lives of others than it is about deliberately punitive actions. Not to trivialize it, but it is sort of an "accidental racism."

      • (Score: 1) by The Mighty Buzzard on Thursday February 27 2014, @12:51AM

        by The Mighty Buzzard (18) Subscriber Badge <themightybuzzard@proton.me> on Thursday February 27 2014, @12:51AM (#7684) Homepage Journal
        Yes, it absolutely does have to be deliberate. If no human or mechanical mind has discriminated based on race, there is no racism. Period.
        --
        My rights don't end where your fear begins.
        • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Angry Jesus on Thursday February 27 2014, @01:03AM

          by Angry Jesus (182) on Thursday February 27 2014, @01:03AM (#7689)

          Yes, it absolutely does have to be deliberate. If no human or mechanical mind has discriminated based on race, there is no racism. Period.

          "In its majestic equality, the law forbids rich and poor alike to sleep under bridges, beg in the streets, and steal loaves of bread." -- Anatole France