All posts tagged: Big Data


Uber’s Algorithms Could Spot Crimes in Progress. But Do We Want Them To?

The news out of Kalamazoo, Mich., this past weekend was grim: Authorities say Jason Brian Dalton, an Uber driver, shot and killed at least six people in different locations in the space of a few hours. Chillingly, Dalton apparently took several fares in between his alleged attacks. The case raises difficult questions about Uber’s responsibility toward passengers and the public. For example, could the company have prevented Dalton’s crimes? And if so, how should Uber and regulators respond? More stringent background checks are one option, but they can be discriminatory. They also quickly lead to diminishing returns, since they measure past behavior, and it is incredibly difficult, even based on current behavior, to predict who will become a mass shooter. There is one thing Uber probably could do using its existing technology and the massive amounts of data it already collects about its drivers and passengers: The company could spot crimes in progress by their drivers as they take place. But while that approach might be more effective than implementing more background checks (and more allegedly misleading “safety …

Big Data

Public Health Law Monitoring and Evaluation in a Big Data Future

Law is important to public health. It provides government health agencies with their jurisdiction and regulatory authority. Laws and regulations are routinely used in the name of health to regulate behavior and foster safer environments. More fundamentally, law’s influence in shaping everyday life and the socioeconomic and physical environments in which it unfolds has a powerful impact on both the level and distribution of health. Despite law’s importance, and despite the strong orientation toward scientific evaluation in public health, the study of the impact of laws and legal practices on health (“public health law research”) has been uneven. While research of the highest quality has been sustained in a few areas like auto safety and tobacco control, it has been infrequent or truncated in others, like gun control and HIV/AIDS. The research that has been supported is almost entirely aimed at evaluating deliberate legal interventions. Epidemiological research on unintended health effects of non-health laws has been almost entirely neglected. Overall, the national investment in rigorously separating the laws that help from the laws that hurt has …