Richard Berk Talks Big Data at Penn's Science Cafe

At Tuesday's Penn Science Cafe lecture at WXPN's World Cafe Live, Richard Berk, professor of criminology and statistics, led an animated discussion after his lecture titled “Big Data and Algorithms: Can They Be Fair and Accurate at the Same Time?” 

Working with Penn colleagues in statistics and computer science, Richard Berk develops and deploys algorithms that assist in criminal-justice decision making. His computer software is used to help inform whether a prison inmate is released on parole and the kind of supervision provided to individuals on probation. He is currently working on projects regarding release decisions at arraignment and police handling of incidents of intimate-partner violence. In each application, the goal is to improve current practice. Nevertheless, these tools can be controversial because of errors and potential unfairness for the people affected. Are there tradeoffs between accurate forecasts of criminal behavior and fairness, and what about the consequences for potential crime victims?


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