Now & Next: Data with Destiny

Posted on 01 March 2019

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The data revolution: privacy, politics and predictive policing

A revolution is unfolding, invisible, global, and virtually impossible to avoid. More than 90% of the world’s data appeared in just the past two years transforming everything from retail to medicine.

Many more patients will be cured and many more patients will live.

But this explosion of data is also raising fundamental questions about democracy...

Hilary Clinton should not even be allowed to run for the presidency.

…about privacy.

Your user agreement sucks.

And about society’s most basic freedoms. 

When will the killing end? Put two minutes on that.

NOW AND NEXT
DATA WITH DESTINY

Life Force 1 at 23:05, and the risk is category 1.

Alright.

Erlanger Hospital, Tennessee.

Are you hurting anywhere?

The medical staff here are at the forefront of efforts to transform healthcare, with data.  And those efforts could make the difference between life and death.

First we thought she has significant for hypertension

Nick Bowers is one of the latest patients to be rushed to the Emergency Ward.

He’s having a great deal of difficulty speaking.  Ask him to smile.

Can you give me a smile, a big smile. Give me a big smile. 

He’s suspected of having a clot in his brain. 

Right side and he looks like bleeding.

For Nick, every second counts.

Dr Tom Devlin
Executive Director, Chattanooga Network for Stroke
There is no more time sensitive condition in all of medicine than stroke.  Every hour, minute and seconds we can shave off the diagnosis the better the patients will do. 

At many hospitals there can be critical delays in analysing brain scans.  Hours can go by before patients are properly diagnosed and transferred for emergency treatment.  But Dr Tom Devlin’s team is using a new data driven tool.  It’s able to analyse a scan of Nick’s brain in a fraction of the time doctors would normally take.  Called VisAI, it’s machine learning technology quickly draws on vast amounts of medical data gathered from years of research. 

Dr Tom Devlin
Executive Director, Chattanooga Network for Stroke
You can see it well, can't you?

Doctor
Yeah, pretty well. Yeah.

Dr Tom Devlin
Executive Director, Chattanooga Network for Stroke
The Vis technology has a tremendous amount of data built into the system of where these arteries are, what these arteries should look and where there should be blood flow, and when there’s interruption in that blood flow it sends off an alert…

Can you say ‘Today is a sunny day.  Today is a sunny day.’   Can you say that for me?

VisAI has identified a clot that is blocking blood flow in Nick’s brain.

Doctor
It’s right there. 

Dr Tom Devlin
Executive Director, Chattanooga Network for Stroke
So, right there is where the blockage is. So, the goal now is to get the clot out of the brain as quickly as we can.  If we cannot get this clot out of the brain then this whole area of brain that you see here in green, the whole area will be dead, most likely.  He may permanently have some weakness on that right side and he may not be able to speak normally in the future at all.

This hospital is pioneering another data driven technology that could save lives.  Carol Reid is being prepped for open heart surgery, an operation that itself carries significant risk of a stroke. 

Dr Tom Devlin
Executive Director, Chattanooga Network for Stroke
Do you know there’s a lot of people actually that have strokes during surgery, you know, we see it more than we would like to see it certainly, and some people get better but there’s a number of people…

The trouble is, strokes can’t usually be detected until the operation is over.  It’s a risk that Carol is all too familiar with – her own mother suffered a stroke during an operation.

Dr Tom Devlin
Executive Director, Chattanooga Network for Stroke
Did they know about it as soon as she came out of surgery?

Patient 
No.  No.  Nobody knew until she came to and, you know, a little time had passed and she wasn’t right. 

Dr Tom Devlin
Executive Director, Chattanooga Network for Stroke:

A couple of days, a number of days or so?

Patient
Yeah. Yeah.

Today, Carol will be the world’s first patient to have her brain monitored for signs of a stroke during heart surgery.  It’s an innovation that could transform the outcome for heart surgery patients across the world.  As Carol goes under the knife, this scanner uses data collected from hundreds of patients to identify clots that might be passing to her brain.  For the next six hours the scanner constantly monitors her blood flow.  Finally, Carol’s operation is successfully completed and the risk of a stroke passes.

Back in the intervention room, Nick’s not out of the woods.  To remove a clot, doctors are inserting a catheter up through his leg into his brain.  It’s known as a thrombectomy.

Doctor
You know, what we did in this case is use a smaller bore catheter to grab the clot.  This is actually the culprit for all his symptoms, and now we have it outside of the body and we have full restoration of flow. 

Doctors are hopeful the damage to Nick’s brain has been reversed.  Just hours after the operation he seems like a patient transformed.

Patient
Hello Dr Devlin

Dr Tom Devlin
Executive Director, Chattanooga Network for Stroke
How are you doing there Sir?

Patient
Pretty good.  How are you?

Dr Tom Devlin
Executive Director, Chattanooga Network for Stroke
Good to see you.

Data driven innovation is rapidly spreading in parts of the healthcare industry.  Services powered by artificial intelligence are set to be worth 6.6 billion dollars by 2021.

Dr Tom Devlin
Executive Director, Chattanooga Network for Stroke
This technology will significantly decrease the time in which it takes us to institute definitive care for our stroke patients.  Many more patients will be treated, many more patients will be cured, and many more patients will live. 

The data revolution sweeping the modern world has a darker side too.  Day and night, vast amounts of personal information are quietly collected from the 2.5 billion people with a smartphone. 

Hal Hodson
Technology Correspondent, The Economist

When you go to sleep your phone doesn’t and it’s a pretty reasonable assumption that there are people who know when you are asleep and when you are awake.

It’s not just smartphones.  The number of connected devices collecting data about their users is on the rise and is expected to reach 31 billion worldwide by 2020, and then there’s the internet.

Hal Hodson
Technology Correspondent, The Economist

Every single web page you read, every news site you visit, is pushing these little software robots called cookies onto your computer or your smartphone.

Hal Hodson is The Economist’s technology correspondent.

Hal Hodson
Technology Correspondent, The Economist

What they are essentially trying to do is figure out what you are interested in so that they can show you ads.

Now that kind of tracking is making its way deeper into the offline world. 

Hal Hodson
Technology Correspondent, The Economist

While I’ve been running my watch has been tracking my GPS location, the way my body moves and my pulse.  Apple has patents to monitor your pulse through your earbuds and all of that data is getting sent up to the Cloud to build a profile on me and the way I run.

Today, you don’t even need to be on the internet to generate data points and  add to your hidden online profile. 

Hal Hodson
Technology Correspondent, The Economist

London is a sea of surveillance too.  There’s probably twenty CCTV cameras within a hundred feet of us right now and every shop has a WiFi network that’s tracking our phones as we move through the streets.

In today’s data economy, you are the product.

Hal Hodson
Technology Correspondent, The Economist

The data that gets generated, whether it’s through a watch or through your activity on the web or moving around a city, or your credit card swipes, it’s all used for one thing and that’s to profile you  to understand you as a consumer. 

Advertisers don’t have access to all data.  In Europe, strong rules protecting personal privacy were introduced to stop companies from explicitly selling your data, but even they’re not as secure as they sound. 

Hal Hodson
Technology Correspondent, The Economist

It’s the trails of data that I leave, they are unique to me so even if you scrub my name off it, it’s kind of like a fingerprint that’s not attached to a name and all you have to do is find another fingerprint that is attached to my name, and all of a sudden all of the anonymisation gets deanonymized all at once.

Donald Trump
Hilary Clinton should not even be allowed to run for the presidency of the United States.  She shouldn’t be allowed to run. 

Data driven technologies are even being used to influence how people vote. 

After decades of lies and scandal, her corruption is closing in. 
I’m Donald Trump, and I approve this message.

Politicians are increasingly turning to data companies to mine the social media profiles of voters and to hit them with ever more targeted messages.

And we are going to…

During the 2016 US presidential election, the Trump campaign is believed to have spent tens of millions of dollars on this microtargeting.  Trump’s campaign manager, co-founded the company that orchestrated this: Cambridge Analytica. 

Alexander Nix
CEO, Cambridge Analytica
It’s my privilege to speak to you today about the power of big data and psychographics in the electoral process.  Most…

Cambridge Analytica built what it claimed was a powerful programme to predict and influence choices at the ballot box using the personal data of 50 million American Facebook users, but it appears they did so without users’ permission.  In March 2018, the company’s British offices, its global headquarters, were raided by authorities, suspecting the Facebook data had been obtained and used unlawfully.  It’s left some voters feeling vulnerable and angry.

Professor David Carroll
Parsons School of Design
We have realised that there are elaborate profiles created about us that we can’t see.

David Carroll is an academic and digital activist.  He is fighting Cambridge Analytica in the British Courts to demand the company hand over all the data it has on him. 

Professor David Carroll
Parsons School of Design
It’s important that people understand how data can be used for good and for evil.  Where did they get our data?  What did they do with it?  How did they use it?  Who did they share it with?  And, do we have a right to opt out of this?

David believes tracking people across the web to influence their voting behaviour poses a threat to personal privacy and undermines their democratic choices.  If his lawsuit is successful, it could open up data companies like Cambridge Analytica to mass legal action from the US electorate.  Now the tech giants who profit from personal data are also feeling a backlash.

Mark Zuckerberg
Facebook CEO

I think we clearly viewed as a mistake that we didn’t inform people and we did that based on…

In April 2018 Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg was hauled in front of Congress to address the company’s privacy violations.

Politician
Your user agreement sucks.  Now, you know that and I know that. 

It’s not just the titans of tech coming under closer scrutiny.  In communities around the world, people are looking more carefully at how public bodies handle their data.  Skid Row, Los Angeles: this neighbourhood has one of the largest homeless populations in America.  It’s an unlikely battleground for the growing dispute over the use and exploitation of data but it’s from headquarters here that a group of citizen activists are preparing to take on the authorities.

Citzien Activist
Stop LAPD Spying Coalition

A lot of the community is going to be there so, yeah, great.  Thank you. 

Led by Jamie Garcia and Hamed Khan, the Stop the LAPD Spying Coalition claims law enforcement agencies are using data in a way that is unfair and biased against certain communities.  Today the activists are on their way to City Hall. 

Jamie Garcia
Stop LAPD Spying Coalition

We definitely expect a lot of the community to be there.  We have been organising.  It’s been a long time coming.

Citzien Activist
Stop LAPD Spying Coalition

Alright folks.  We are going to expose it, we are going to dismantle it, and we are going to just call their lies and their conspiracies on all of these bogus programmes.  I will see you guys in a couple of minutes. 

But the programmes that have so unnerved people in this community are being hailed by others as the future of policing.  In an effort to tackle crime, the Los Angeles Police Department is using a novel approach called predictive policing.  Rampart Division deploys a controversial data driven software called PredPol. 

Detective Emily Raupp
Crime Analysis Detail
Basically, it just tells you the locations of where we are predicting that the crime is going to happen, so every morning we get an email from PredPol that tells us where our missions are going to be for day watch and pm watch.  So, the email gets sent directly to us, we’ll print it out for the officers and it looks something like this.

PredPol predicts crime by analysing data from the past several years.  It examines three sources: the crime type; the location and the time.  It then runs them through an algorithm that identifies 500 x 500 foot locations that officers should patrol. 

Sergeant David Rich
LAPD

Whatever you can do to give you the advantage in a situation helps us come out on top. 

Sergeant David Rich has been patrolling the streets of LA for 23 years.  Today he is using data, not tip-offs, to predict where crime will happen and pre-empt it. 

So, here we are at that intersection that’s been identified as a problematic area as far as thefts, vehicle related crimes.  So, in this PredPol area a lot of vehicle crime has been reported so I am going to check out a car up here, make sure everything is on the up and up.

Statistically speaking, if there is more police officers within an area, you know, somebody who is looking for an opportunity to maybe break into a car, they may be less likely to do that.  So, simply being present is actually a deterrent. 

The LAPD is trialling another programme that goes one step further, to identify and track people it assesses will be the criminals of tomorrow.  Anthony is an ex-offender and activist who believes his past has made him a target for the police.

Anthony Robles
Youth Justice Coalition
They are just justifying profiling the communities they are already targeting under the guise of science and objectivity.  They just kind of throw a wide dragnet, they are all gang members and then when you are put on this file and it does an algorithm, spits out a risk assessment, you are put on a bulletin. 

Operation Laser uses a point system to rank individuals based on their past behaviour.  The higher your score, the greater the chance you will end up on a list of people who according to the data are most likely to re-offend.  For LAPD chiefs, these data driven technologies are an efficient way to reduce crime.

Captain Jeff Nolte
LAPD

Data has been critically important to the Police Department and how we serve the community.

But researchers at Cornell University Library found that systems like PredPol are susceptible to so-called feedback loops where the police are repeatedly sent back to the same neighbourhoods regardless of the true crime rate. 

Back at City Hall, members of the Stop LAPD Spying Coalition are poised for the start of LA’s first ever public hearing on predictive policing.  Now the police must listen directly to their concerns about racial profiling.

Jamie Garcia
Stop LAPD Spying Coalition

When we look at the data that the police are collecting, that data is inherently biased.  All of those things show a great impact on the black and poor community, and they are patrolled, they are surveilled, they are monitored, they are watched and they are harassed because they are presumed guilty.

Politican:
And I simply request that we give the department the opportunity to speak and be heard. Thank you.

Voice of Deputy Chief Sean Malinowski
There are issues when it comes to the crime stats, for instance and I acknowledge that there may be built in biases to that as reported crime but we are trying to get better. 

The campaigners are demanding that the police release more details about how their predictive policing programme works. 

Jamie Garcia
Stop LAPD Spying Coalition

Hearing right now is no reassurance to us that you are transparent and you are telling us what is really going on in this city.  We actually had to file lawsuits to make you be transparent, where we had to spend $400 of our own fucking money to make you be transparent.

Citzien Activist 
Stop LAPD Spying Coalition

And so for me, data driven policing begs one question: what data will you be used to target arrests, banish and destroy black and brown communities?  Race, gender…

Jamie Garcia
Stop LAPD Spying Coalition

We really want an audit of our predictive policing programmes, PredPol and Operation Laser.

Citzien Activist 
Stop LAPD Spying Coalition

…this shit is twisted, abolish, abolish predictive policing, abolish policing…

Jamie Garcia
Stop LAPD Spying Coalition

I want to find out how people have been damaged, how their civil rights, their human rights, have been violated and give them an opportunity to actually receive reparations if things have been violated. 

Citzien Activist 
Stop LAPD Spying Coalition

Where do I begin to trust you with those kind of statistics?  I know my two minutes is up but you all need to begin listening instead of waiting for two minutes to end.  When will the killing end?  When will the predictive policing end?  Put two minutes on that.  Put two minutes are people dying in the streets!

Captain Jeff Nolte
LAPD

There’s critics that are guarding rights of people and that’s, they should do that but I’m not sure it is a valid argument but it’s one that they should raise.  If we were using something else, there would be critics.  It’s just the way it is. 

It’s frustratingly slow progress for citizen groups like the Coalition as they campaign for greater clarity on how data driven programmes work.  But at least it’s a campaign that here in America they are free to pursue.  In China there’s precious little discussion about the ethics of data use.  And here the state is already using data in an effort to control the behaviour of its citizens.  Journalist, Liu Hu is barred from some hotels, he can’t buy property, he can’t even take a high speed train.

Liu Hu
Journalist
Nobody notified me that I was going to be put on a blacklist.  Nobody told me. Nobody told me. 

The Government here is building a social credit system using individuals’ data.

I was booking a plane ticket and I had this pop-up message saying that I was a person with a low credit.

The Chinese government wants this social credit system to montior the trustworthiness of its 1.4 billion citizens and to montior their compliance with social norms and rules. This could eventually include close surveillance of their activities both online and in the wider world. Behaviour deemed antisocial such as crossing at a red light, smoking on a train or obstructing footpaths with bikes could lead to punishments. Liu Hu was placed on a blacklist in 2017 after a dispute about the payment of a court fine.

People who don’t know me might think I’m a terrible person.  In fact I think I’m a very honest person and I shouldn’t be on that list.

Different aspects of the system are still being trialled but 12 million people have already been slapped with domestic travel bans for bad behaviour. 

Can this system treat us fairly?  There are so many unfair verdicts and rulings.  There’s no system to correct the mistakes.

As the global data revolution accelerates, its ethics are set to come under ever closer scrutiny.  Debate is already raging over how to hold companies and governments accountable for how they use data.  In western democracies, checks and balances could prevent the kind of exploitation some in China are already facing.  But will they?

We have no power to oversee the people, the officials, or the institutions who carry this out.  They can do anything they want.

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