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Roundtable on Uses of Artificial Intelligence in the Criminal Justice System


Dunedin, December 11-12, 2017



Dunedin Speakers

Geoffrey Barnes is the first-ever Director of Criminology for the Western Australia Police Force.  He also holds a concurrent appointment as an Affiliated Lecturer in Evidence Based Policing at the University of Cambridge, supervising students in the Police Executive Programme who are seeking their M.St. in Applied Criminology and Police Management. He has both led and participated in multiple randomised controlled trials, while also performing work on the actuarial forecasting of future criminal behaviour, the development of crime and anti-social behaviour over the life course, and the use of cost incentives to promote better outcomes for children in foster care. His research interests also include the use of restorative justice and cognitive behavioural therapy with criminal offenders, the effects of swift and certain sanctions on illegal behaviour, the connections between criminal justice involvement and mortality, and the employment of large data sets derived from official government systems.  

He earned his Ph.D. in Criminology from the University of Maryland, and was elected a Fellow of the Academy of Experimental Criminology in 2011. Prior to joining the faculty at Cambridge, he held previous appointments at the University of Pennsylvania, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, University of Maryland, and Australian National University.  

Len Cook has been the Families Commissioner and Chair of the Board of Superu since July 2015, a New Zealand crown agency operating as a 'what works' centre. Superu has had a strong involvement in lifting the evidence based used by NGOs, developing standards of evidence, and understanding the nature of cultural capital. From 1992 to 2000 he was Government Statistician of New Zealand, after working in Statistics New Zealand in a variety of roles from 1971 to 2000. From 2000 to 2005 he was National Statistician of the United Kingdom. He has been “Friend of the Chair” for the regular meetings of Pacific Chief Statisticians for the last 5 years. His longstanding interests are in the areas of population change and public policy, public administration, official statistics and the place of science in policy.  

Len graduated in Mathematics and Statistics from Otago in 1971. He is a life member of the Population Association of New Zealand and the New Zealand Statistical Association, and an elected Companion of the Royal Society of New Zealand.  He also holds honorary academic appointments at VUW Institute of Policy Studies, AUT, Otago University School of Medicine and NIDEA.

Sam Corbett-Davies is a Fulbright scholar and Ph.D. student in computer science at Stanford University. Originally from Hawke's Bay, he studied engineering  at the University of Canterbury before moving to Stanford. Sam's research applies machine learning and statistics to policy questions. He is currently studying what it means for an algorithm to be fair, especially in the context of risk assessments in the criminal justice system.  

Tim Dare is an Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Auckland.  He worked briefly as a lawyer before doing his Ph.D. in the philosophy of law and starting his academic career in the early 1990s.  His publications include books and articles on the philosophy of law, legal ethics, immunisation programmes, the significance of judicial disagreement, parental rights and medical decisions, the proper allocation of the burden of proof, and the use of predictive analytics in child protection. He is employed to provide data ethics advice to New Zealand’s Ministry of Social Development and has carried our ethical reviews of a number of predictive risk modelling tools in use in New Zealand and the US. He sits on a number of local and national research and clinical ethics committees.  

Colin Gavaghan is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Law at the University of Otago. He is the first director of the New Zealand Law Foundation sponsored Centre for Law and Policy in Emerging Technologies. The Centre examines the legal, ethical and policy issues around new technologies. To date, the Centre has carried out work on biotechnology, nanotechnology, information and communication technologies and artificial intelligence. In addition to emerging technologies, Colin lectures and writes on medical and criminal law. He is a member of the Advisory Committee on Assisted Reproductive Technology and the Advisory Board of the International Neuroethics Network. He was an expert witness in the High Court case of Seales v Attorney General, and has advised members of parliament on draft legislation. He is co-convenor of the AI and Society discussion group at Otago, and co-investigator in the AI and Law in New Zealand project.  

Maaike Helmus focuses on offender risk assessment. Virtually every decision that is made impacting offenders (e.g., laying charges, bail, sentencing, prison security classification, treatment recommendations, parole, community supervision intensity and conditions) is influenced by some kind of assessment of the offender’s likelihood of reoffending. Criminal justice decisions tend to be most efficient and most effective when resources are allocated based on risk to reoffend; specifically, higher risk offenders need higher intensity resources (more treatment, more supervision). So how can we maximize the objectivity/fairness and the accuracy of these risk assessments?

Maaike is interested in a wide variety of topics related to assessing recidivism risk and changes in risk among offenders. This also includes understanding individual risk factors for recidivism, and understanding the construct validity of risk factors and risk scales. Her research has focused on sex offenders, but she also does research on risk assessment with domestic violent offenders, Indigenous offenders, female offenders, and general offenders. Maaike also conducts research on issues related to improving offender risk communication (e.g., how can we best communicate the results of risk scales), assessing changes in risk over time, how best to structure risk assessments (e.g., the role of professional judgement and overrides), how to develop/validate predictive models, and other statistical issues in predicting recidivism and measuring the accuracy of risk scales. Lastly, Maaike is also interested in meta-analyses, both in conducting them and in discussing how to improve meta-analysis techniques.

William Isaac is a Ph.D. candidate in the department of political science at Michigan State University where he studies American politics and public policy. He is a 2017 Open Society Foundation Fellow and currently serves as Research Consultant to the Human Rights Data Analysis Group (HRDAG).  His research focuses on the intersection between technology policy, human, and civil rights, with a specific focus their potential ramifications on underrepresented communities. William’s previous research has been featured in Science, Nature, USA Today, and the Wall Street Journal.  

Alistair Knott is an Associate Professor at the Department of Computer Science in the University of Otago, New Zealand. He studied Psychology and Philosophy at Oxford University, then took an MSc and Ph.D. in Artificial Intelligence at Edinburgh University. Ali has worked in AI for 25 years, focussing on models of natural language processing, human-computer dialogue and neural models of language and memory; he has published over 100 papers on these topics. He also works for the Auckland-based AI startup Soul Machines, where he is implementing the embodied model of language developed in his book Sensorimotor Cognition and Natural Language Syntax (MIT Press, 2012). He is co-convenor of the AI and Society discussion group at Otago, and co-investigator in the AI and Law in New Zealand project.  

James Maclaurin is an Associate Professor in the Department of Philosophy and Associate Dean for Research in Humanities at the University of Otago. His M.A. in biological applications of mathematical information theory is from Victoria University of Wellington and his Ph.D. in the philosophy of science is from the Australian National University. His research focuses on the relationship between science, public policy and ethics. His books include What is Biodiversity? (with Kim Sterelny, University of Chicago Press) and A New Science of Religion (with Greg Dawes, Springer Science). He has also published on philosophical methodology and on the application of evolutionary science in economics and in computer science. He has a long-standing interest in the use of information technology in higher education, in which context he convenes the University of Otago's Information Technology Advisory Committee which advises the Vice Chancellor on the university’s use of new information technology. He is co-convenor of the AI and Society discussion group at Otago, and co-investigator in the AI and Law in New Zealand project.  

James Mansell is a data science activist. He was the thought leader and champion of 'Social Investment' and introduced Advanced Analytics (predictive modeling) first into child protection, then Ministry of Social Development, then Treasury for a whole of government approach to investing in long run outcomes.  More recently he introduced the same approach into New Zealand Tax agency (IRD) for the “productive sector” and supported a large increased investment and roll out of new advanced analytics capability in IRD.