Automating Inequality by Virginia Eubanks


A powerful investigative look at data-based discrimination—and how technology affects civil and human rights and economic equity.

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In Indiana, one million people lose their healthcare, food stamps, and cash benefits in three years—because a new computer system interprets any application mistake as “failure to cooperate.” In Los Angeles, an algorithm calculates the comparative vulnerability of tens of thousands of homeless people in order to prioritize them for a shrinking pool of housing resources. In Pittsburgh, a child welfare agency uses a statistical model to try to predict which children might be future victims of abuse or neglect.

Since the dawn of the digital age, decision-making in finance, employment, politics, health and human services has undergone revolutionary change. Today, automated systems control which neighborhoods get policed, which families attain resources, and who is investigated for fraud. While we all live under this new regime of data, the most invasive and punitive systems are aimed at the poor.

Virginia Eubanks systematically investigates the impacts of data mining, policy algorithms, and predictive risk models on poor and working-class people in America. The book is full of heart-wrenching and eye-opening stories, and in the tradition of The New Jim Crow and $2 a Day, this deeply researched and passionate book could not be timelier.

Automating Inequality by Virginia Eubanks
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