Farid talks AI in US criminal justice system on PBS’s Nova

A person in a business suit holds a smartphone. An illustration of a brain composed of blue connecting lines rises from it.

Hany Farid, a CITRIS Policy Lab faculty advisory board member who received a 2020 CITRIS COVID-19 Seed Award to analyze the spread of misinformation related to the coronavirus pandemic, appeared in a PBS Nova special on the intersection of artificial intelligence (AI) and the U.S. criminal justice system.

To analyze the accuracy of COMPAS, case management software used in criminal courts to test the likelihood of recidivism, Farid and researchers conducted an online survey using 400 participants. Their findings discovered a correlation between prior convictions and race.

“We know that other things correlate with race, in this case, number of prior convictions,” Farid said. “And so, when you train an algorithm on historical data, well, guess what? It’s going to reproduce history.”