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Comments on 'Precrime' Parole System In Philadelphia
A machine learning system in Philly tries, with considerable success, to predict which inmates should be paroled. (Read the complete story)

"A 45% success rate on an either/or question? A random choice should get 50%."
(Andy 7/14/2009 7:41:29 AM)
"Not entirely true in this scenario. You would have to see the entire test. Lets say you take 30k cases and 500 of them result in repeat offenses. Flipping a coin on every one(Random Choice as you put it)would result in you catching 250 out of 500 of those cases just as you say, but it would also result in 14500 cases where you said they would but they would not. That is 50% success across the entire 30k cases which is basically awful. Hell, you'd get better success just letting everyone go. If this thing were 95% accurate with the other 29500 cases and 45% accurate with the 500, that is amazing. Overall that is a 94% accuracy. Of course I'm making numbers up and even with 94% accuracy you're still jailing 1500 potentially innocent people. What is important is not being accurate with the offenders, but rather with the non-offenders. Any reading on accuracy there?"
(Brandon 7/14/2009 8:28:02 AM)
"Guys - thanks for your comments. I've rewritten the article a bit for clarity. However, as Brandon points out, the 'missing piece' is the number of cases of violent behavior that were not caught by the computer. Nothing has been published in a journal; this article is all I've found."
(Bill Christensen 7/14/2009 9:26:40 AM)
"The terms are "false positive" and "false negative". Without knowing these it is indeed impossible to judge the system."
(Yossi Preminger 7/14/2009 10:04:55 AM)
""Science has made this available to us. We'd be foolish not to use it." Famous last words."
(Zac Hunter 7/14/2009 10:41:34 AM)

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