Virginia Eubanks’ “Automating Inequality: How High-Tech Tools Profile, Police, and Punish the Poor”

Virginia Eubanks’ “Automating Inequality: How High-Tech Tools Profile, Police, and Punish the Poor”

Virginia Eubanks, Associate Professor of Political Science at the University at Albany, SUNY, discusses her new book.

Since the dawn of the digital age, decision-making in finance, employment, politics, health and human services has undergone revolutionary change. Today, automated systems—rather than humans—control which neighborhoods get policed, which families attain needed 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.

Automating Inequality 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, from a woman in Indiana whose benefits are literally cut off as she lays dying to a family in Pennsylvania in daily fear of losing their daughter because they fit a certain statistical profile.