IEEE Technology and Society Magazine - June 2019 - 44

the application of AI techniques to those practices. Further the algorithms of predictive policing embed values
and make designations and decisions with implicit ethical consequences.
The Ethics of Care approach has a history of its own
as well, and is similar in some ways to concepts in
related fields, including the "Duty to Protect" in policing
[28] and the "Duty of Care" in law [29]. In contrast, the
Models of Threat approach construes the world and the
individuals within it as risks and threats which must be
managed, mitigated, and eliminated. The later discussion section will consider what it means to implement
the Ethics of Care approach, following the examples.
First we give a brief sketch of each approach.
The Models of Threat approach begins from the
assumption that the world can be classified into clear categories, i.e, threats and non-threats, and that this is the
first step in choosing an appropriate action to take.6 It
focuses on capturing and processing increasing amounts
and types of data, and processing this data to provide
increasingly accurate classifiers of what constitutes a
threat, and predictors of the likelihood and risk from that
threat. It largely assumes that the actions that will be
taken to address threats and risks are independent of the
observation, collection, and analysis of data. This
approach also assumes that the primary values are in the
accuracy, precision, fidelity, and comprehensiveness of
the data model, and in the correctness of its classifications and reliability of its predictions. This approach
could also be characterized as taking a narrow view,
being very detail oriented, atomistic, and deeply analytic.
By contrast, the Ethics of Care approach is holistic,
and takes a broad, big-picture view of the values and
goals of systems design. It considers the interaction and
interrelation between an action or intervention and the
nature of classifying things and predicting outcomes
within specific contexts. The goals and values of an Ethics of Care approach is to benefit everyone represented
by the system as well as those who use the system, and
the society as a whole. The Ethics of Care approach recognizes the complexity of social relations and sociotechnical systems, including the organization using the
system, and does not expect more and better data to
simply solve complex social and institutional problems,
but rather to provide opportunities for finding better
solutions, better actions, and better policies than what
are already considered.
6
This is not to say that the world, or its representation in a computational
model, is necessarily discrete. One could represent the likelihood that an
individual or area might present a threat or risk as a continuous variable.
And while the scale and threshold for action on the basis of that variable
might not be predetermined, or determined by the system, it is expected
that such metrics will influence the decisions and actions of police officers
with respect to those individuals and areas - i.e., that the threat or risk
represented by the calculation can and should result in actions.

44

The traditional notion of Ethics of Care is that interpersonal relationships form the basis for normativity,
and should be guided by benevolence [16].7 When it
comes to law enforcement, we can see the Models of
Threat approach seeking to better identify violations of
the law, and to predict when and where violations will
occur, so as to better deploy police officers to respond.
It might also aim to assist police in identifying perpetrators and bringing them to justice. The Ethics of Care
approach, might instead consider the factors that lead
people to violate the law, and seek out new interventions that make crimes less likely, thus requiring fewer
resources to enforce the law. It would also view the relationship between law enforcement and the community
as primary and consider how any new data tool might
impact that relationship.

A Note on "Precrime"
Beyond the practical socio-technical meanings of predictive policing, there is also a deeply troubling connotation to the term, captured in the concept of "precrime."
This notion is more philosophical in nature, and draws
upon our concepts of guilt, responsibility, agency, causality, and their temporality, as well as the means and
ultimate aims of law enforcement in the regulation of
society. The term is also mentioned extensively by nearly every press article about predictive policing, and the
commercial software startup PredPol, which supplies
Los Angeles and many other police departments with
data analysis software, states prominently on their
"About" page that they are not selling "Minority Report"
technology [30]. Yet, the notion of precrime has powerful cultural meanings for good reasons beyond the popularity of sci-fi.
The basic idea of precrime stems from the idea that
the goal of policing is the reduction and, ultimately,
the elimination of crime altogether. While investigating
crimes after they occur and responding to crimes-inaction are good, it would be even better to prevent
crimes before they happen, or so this line of thinking
goes. This view tends to emphasize deterrence over
other key elements of criminal justice - retribution
and reformation. The goal is to disrupt or dissuade
criminality before it manifests. While crime prevention
could focus on eliminating the means of committing
7
According to the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, "Normatively, care
ethics seeks to maintain relationships by contextualizing and promoting
the wellbeing of caregivers and care receivers in a network of social relations. Most often defined as a practice or virtue rather than a theory as
such, "care" involves maintaining the world of, and meeting the needs of,
our self and others. It builds on the motivation to care for those who are
dependent and vulnerable, and it is inspired by both memories of being
cared for and the idealizations of self. Following in the sentimentalist tradition of moral theory, care ethics affirms the importance of caring motivation, emotion and the body in moral deliberation, as well as reasoning from
particulars." [16].

IEEE TECHNOLOGY AND SOCIETY MAGAZINE

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