In an age of austerity, and a climate of fear about child abuse, perhaps it is unsurprising that social workers have turned to new technology for help.
Local authorities – which face spiralling demand and an £800m funding shortfall – are beginning to ask whether big data could help to identify vulnerable children.
Could a computer program flag a problem family, identify a potential victim and prevent another Baby P or Victoria Climbié?
Years ago, such questions would have been the stuff of science fiction; now they are the stuff of science fact.
Bristol is one place experimenting with these new capabilities, and grappling with the moral and ethical questions that come with them.
Gary Davies, who oversees the council’s predictive system, can see the advantages.
He argues that it does not mean taking humans out of the decision-making process; rather it means using data to stop humans making mistakes.
“It’s not saying you will be sexually exploited, or you will go missing,” says Davies. “It’s demonstrating the behavioural characteristics of being exploited or going missing. It’s flagging up that risk and vulnerability.”
Such techniques have worked in other areas for years. Machine learning systems built to mine massive amounts of personal data have long been used to predict customer behaviour in the private sector.
Computer programs assess how likely we are to default on a loan, or how much risk we pose to an insurance provider.
Designers of a predictive model have to identify an “outcome variable”, which indicates the presence of the factor they are trying to predict.
For child safeguarding, that might be a child entering the care system.
They then attempt to identify characteristics commonly found in children who enter the care system. Once these have been identified, the model can be run against large datasets to find other individuals who share the same characteristics.
The Guardian obtained details of all predictive indicators considered for inclusion in Thurrock council’s child safeguarding system. They include history of domestic abuse, youth offending and truancy….
1) austerity is a hoax, a trojan horse used to exacerbate financial crises in order to force privatization of public assets. Reduction of economically catalyzing govt spending during economic downturn=worsening of economy=further reduction of taxation income=worsening of govt finances. If people are looking for jobs and jobs need to be done, there’s your economy. All that is needed is the catalyst: money. But money is under the control of our invisible masters via the central banking scam and the debt-money scam. http://thoughtcrimeradio.net/2017/03/censored-ben-franklin-on-the-real-cause-of-the-american-revolution/ Pitting the greed of corporate pillagers against the welfare of abused children is luciferian, which leads naturally to 2):
2) it goes without saying that the wholesale medicalized violence being committed against infants and birthing women is not even suggested as an input to the algorithm. Garbage in, garbage out. How is this possible? At this late date, do you really think this is an innocent oversight? This position is not scientifically tenable. The implication is that medicine is being used as an instrument of social destabilization by the money masters. See below.