Friday, September 3, 2010

Predictive Analysis Challenged

I have written recently about the use of predictive analysis in the criminal justice system. There is remarkable work being done at the University of Pennsylvania,, and at UCLA, However, not everyone is sold on the use of computer models to predict crime and violence.

Bill Stanton, a former NYPD officer and founding partner of QVerity, a security firm, takes issue with the use of predictive analysis to make bail and sentencing recommendations.

In a recent appearance on Fox News, Stanton questioned a computer model that can do no better than identify future murderers with "8-percent accuracy." He does not provide any background to support his 8-percent figure.

Stanton said, “We all want to catch the bad guys. This is a tool, and I want to make sure this tool works properly. Eight out of 100 – 8 percent? I don’t know if I’d want to be a paratrooper with that type of percentage. A lot of questions need to be answered. … How heavily are we going to rely on this? Who’s writing up these algorithms? The person writing the algorithm has certain biases himself. These are things we have to look at. The software could be six times more accurate, and the results would still be a coin toss. Law enforcement budgets are far too tight to waste precious dollars on technology with such a questionable return on investment.”

My Take

Predictive analysis is not merely software, it is a sophisticated computer model which accounts for a myriad of factors. The model is here to stay and will be refined as technology is further developed. Predictive analysis has the potential to reduce victimization and reduce criminal justice costs. No one can argue with either of those results.

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1 comment:

Don Tennant said...

This appears to have been lifted from my blog posting without attribution:

What's conveyed here as a quote from Stanton is actually a combination of Stanton's quote and my commentary.

Don Tennant, Contributing Editor
IT Business Edge

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