IBM developed NYPD surveillance tools that let cops pick targets based on skin color

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How about surveillance tools that let citizens pick targets based on color of uniform?


What do they use this software for?

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Any surveillance system works off of physical observations and characteristics, that is how they work.
We aren’t colorblind, but we expect tech to be?

Race and skin color are an important physical characteristic that cannot be discounted in any such system.
Not including that characteristic would be a major flaw in the way that system works. Thats why these types of systems are fucked up due to the very nature of profiling, there isn’t a good way to do it, profiling is bad full stop.

The problem is in this type of surveillance in general, surveillance of anyone based on any physical characteristic is a really fucked up proposition and of course it will be used to further prejudices of all types including race, gender, gender identity preferences, religion, social status, etc. hightops or head shawl are just as problematic. This is what profiling is. This type of system can’t not pick a “suspicious” demographic to hone in on or draw very problematic statistical conclusions based on the enforcing done on its own operators biases, which creates a nasty loop.

Taking skin color out of the equation in this type of system only peels the onion layer to the next layer, the system is still going to pick out people based on something, no matter how deep you go and how many layers you pick, it will always be flawed and fucked up.

This is the problem with profiling.
Stop it. Just stop.

PS> IBM, don’t you have to be extra careful with your sorted historical ties and everything? yikes. watson didn’t predict this outcome?



“From the company that provided logistical support for the Holocaust comes automated racial profiling!” - an IBM commercial, soon


IBM’s first punch cards were used for demographic sorting in early US censuses, and for the same reason they were put to good use in Nazi Germany for its censuses separating Jews from Aryans.

An important point was the ease with which cards could be sorted with pegs, depending on the location of holes.

So, they’re definitely living up to their history! Racial profiling app, why not - “if we don’t do it, someone else will!”


NYPD spokesperson Peter Donald said the search characteristics were only used for evaluation purposes…

See? Problem solved!

Profiling bad. Databases good.

As a parole office dispatcher for a short time (which I did not enjoy), I realized that skin tone is important for classification, because there are a heck of a lot of repeat names and similar other determining factors that add to the confusion. We even had a pair of brothers in my state who routinely swapped id’s so they could be released faster.


i agree 100%

it is a point of data that is necessary and makes a lot of sense for identifying a specific individual. recording for existing offenders, like fingerprints, hair color, height, weight, etc. seems necessary and it would be negelant to omit.

profiling is the issue. suddenly those data points go from arbitrary characteristics identifying one specific individual, to a selective point of discrimination against a group of people guilty of nothing other than matching that specific characteristic. nothing good has ever come of that way of thinking.


As a person who is heavily involved with metadata in video media, the fact that the system can store racial and skin tone-oriented data is, like, meh. It’s how it’s used, it’s the profiling as @redesigned said, it’s all of the problems with our police state in general, etc. etc. But the metadata itself isn’t really the scary part.

Well, unless under some RIDICULOUS scenario, some, like, crazy racist people got in charge of the United States. Then it might be a really bad thing, but like, then we’d be totally fucked anyway, because we have absolutely built “turnkey totalitarianism.”

But thank goodness THAT will never happen! /s


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