Since 2004, the data-mining company Palantir has quietly signed lucrative contracts with the Pentagon and United States intelligence services.
According to a report by The Verge, the CIA-backed company also has been silently testing a technology in New Orleans that would give Philip K. Dick a run for his money: predictive policing software to help cut down on violent crime in the city.
This is obviously very controversial
The technology relies on an algorithm that absorbs data on locations, times, and dates of previously committed crimes, then submits hotspots on a map for police officers to patrol.
One glaring problem with this: Researchers have found that it may promote racial profiling. A 2016 study suggested the algorithm replicated “systemic bias” against heavily policed communities of color, and that historical crime data did not accurately foresee future criminal activity.
Until now, it wasn’t public knowledge
Palantir reportedly took advantage of a loophole that allowed it to categorize its work as part of a “philanthropic relationship” with the city through Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s NOLA For Life program — and the initiative never passed through a public review process.
The deal has been renewed three times since 2012 and was set to end last week. But as of Thursday morning, neither the city nor Palantir have commented on the current status of the program.