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SF district attorney taps artificial intelligence tool to target implicit bias

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Prosecutors in the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office will use a new artificial intelligence tool in an effort to remove any potential implicit bias when charging a suspect.

District Attorney George Gascón said at a press conference on Wednesday said the tool will redact information about the person’s race and any indicators such as a person’s hair type or neighborhood they come from that can potentially identify someone’s race when a prosecutor initially receives the case file.

Gascón said before his office receives the case from the San Francisco Police Department, the tool would redact information not pertinent to the case in an effort to weed out implicit bias:

“It will redact the work without redacting the essence and quality of the narrative. So, we can take a look first and make an initial charging decision based on the facts and the facts alone without any attention being paid to a person’s race or age.”

He added that prosecutors will then have a second review of the case with information and other evidence, such as video footage, that could show a person’s race.

The office is working with the Stanford Computational Policy Lab in developing the new tool and the tool would be eventually available for all other district attorney offices for use.

Gascón said:

“It is our hope that not only are we going to influence the work in San Francisco, but frankly, we hope this will be creating a sea change of practices around the country.”

The office plans to use the new tool beginning on July 1.

This is not the first time his office has used technology to make improvements. Code for American partnered with the District Attorney’s Office to wipe out marijuana convictions when the state legalized marijuana.

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