Police officers raise concerns about ‘biased’ AI data

LONDON (GN): Police officers have raised concerns about using “biased” artificial-intelligence tools, a report commissioned by one of the UK government’s advisory bodies reveals.

The study warns such software may “amplify” prejudices, meaning some groups could become more likely to be stopped in the street and searched.

It says officers also worry they could become over-reliant on automation.

And it says clearer guidelines are needed for facial recognition’s use.

“The police are concerned that the lack of clear guidance could lead to uncertainty over acceptable uses of this technology,” the Royal United Services Institute (Rusi)’s Alexander Babuta told BBC News.

“And given the lack of any government policy for police use of data analytics, it means that police forces are going to be reluctant to innovate.

“That means any potential benefits of these technologies may be lost because police forces’ risk aversion may lead them not to try to develop or implement these tools for fear of legal repercussions.”

Rusi interviewed about 50 experts for its study, including senior police officers in England and Wales - who were not named - as well as legal experts, academics and government officials.

The work was commissioned by the Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation, which plans to draw up a code of practice covering the police’s use of data analytics next year.

‘Self-fulfilling prophecy’

One of the key concerns expressed was about using existing police records to train machine-learning tools, since these might be skewed by the arresting officers’ own prejudices.

“Young black men are more likely to be stopped and searched than young white men, and that’s purely down to human bias,” said one officer.

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“That human bias is then introduced into the datasets and bias is then generated in the outcomes of the application of those datasets.”

An added factor, the report said, was people from disadvantaged backgrounds were more likely to use public services frequently. And this would generate more data about them, which in turn could make them more likely to be flagged as a risk.

Astronomers find massive neutron star to date

Xinhua (WASHINGTON): Astronomers at West Virginia University in the United States have discovered the most massive neutron star to date, which packs 2.17 times the mass of the sun into a sphere only 20 to 30 kilometers.

This measurement approaches the limits of how massive and compact a single object can become without crushing itself down into a black hole, according to the study published on Monday in the journal Nature Astronomy. The neutron star is a rapidly spinning, dense celestial object that consists primarily of closely packed neutrons and that results from the collapse of a much larger stellar body. A single sugar-cube worth of neutron-star material would weigh 100 million tons on Earth.

Researchers from West Virginia University uncovered the star, approximately 4,600 light-years from Earth, through the Green Bank Telescope in the United States.