Podcast: Automating Inequality, with Virginia Eubanks

Virginia Eubanks is an associate professor of political science at UAlbany's Rockefeller College of Public Affairs & Policy.

ALBANY, N.Y. (April 16, 2019) -- Virginia Eubanks is an associate professor of political science at UAlbany's Rockefeller College of Public Affairs & Policy.

On this episode of the UAlbany News Podcast, Eubanks shares about her book, 'Automating Inequality: How High-Tech Tools Profile, Police and Punish the Poor.'

In the book, she details three examples of technology failing to streamline welfare programs:

  • an effort to automate eligibility processes for public assistance programs in Indiana
  • an electronic registry of the homeless in California
  • statistical model in Pennsylvania that attempts to predict child maltreatment
These automated public service systems are designed to serve some of the country’s most vulnerable populations, such as those living in poverty or contending with poor health, while at the same time saving the government time and money. But these technologies can leave poor families feeling tracked, targeted and trapped. Eubanks explains how these systems fail to remove human bias, exacerbate inequality and perpetuate a "Digital Poorhouse" for working-class people in America.

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