Robots in Public Spaces: Privacy & Design

Kristen Thomasen’s talk can be found here

Robot Rules: Regulating Artificial Intelligence

Jacob Turner’s talk on Monday was filmed – find the link here

His powerpoint slides can be found here

Discrimination, AI & the Criminal Justice System

Our final event last semester was a roundtable with Fahad Diwan (Smartbail), Yuan Stevens (Centre for Comparative Criminology), Vincent Southerland (Center on Race, Inequality, and the Law, NYU), and Marie Manikis (McGill), on the theme “Discrimination, AI & the Criminal Justice System”. Here are a couple of points that were brought up in the almost two-hour discussion:

  • Fahad started us off, saying that AI is a powerful tool for the future, even more so than the internet was in the late 1990s. He stressed that there was a possibility for a lot of harm or good, depending on how the technology was used.
  • Vincent corroborated this, essentially stating that criminal justice in the USA is rooted in slavery and oppression, and that though there is tremendous promise that technology can be used for good, the criminal system has often overwhelmed any good use of this technology. Examples that he gave were that of body-worn cameras that police officers wear, which casts suspicion on anyone that the police officer happens to interact with.
  • Fahad jumped in, talking about his project, Smartbail. Smartbail is a risk assessment tool that uses machine learning to assess the profiles of defendants and whether they will turn up in court if they are let out on bail. Fahad believes that you can use AI in law for good, and that AI is more of a “black box”, so to speak, than judges.
  • Yuan asked how we could have safeguards in computer code to ensure the fairness of the process. Fahad thinks that the software ought to be transparent and open in order to ensure complete legitimacy.
  • Vincent thought that the argument that a judge is a black box is a red herring, since at the end of the day, the judge is still the one making the decisions, AI tools or not. He believes it would be better to to turn the tools on the judges, in order to monitor their racial bias.
  • Fahad believes that you can “sanitize” the data from racial bias. He doesn’t believe that data will necessarily discriminate.
  • Yuan responds, saying that internet is a mirror of what already exists, and that we need to criticize what is already being enabled by technology. She doesn’t think that technology can solve our problems.
  • Vincent and Yuan both agree that we need to make the system more difficult for others to lock you up. Possibilities of e-carceration exist (with ankle monitors). Vincent also believes that judges will only listen to tools like Smartbail if they confirm what the judges already believe.
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