Archive for Amnesty International

abolish the death penalty

Posted in Kids with tags , , , on January 12, 2021 by xi'an

It is irreversible and mistakes happen. Execution is the ultimate, irrevocable punishment: the risk of executing an innocent person can never be eliminated. Since 1973, for example, more than 160 prisoners sent to death row in the USA have later been exonerated or released from death row on grounds of innocence. Others have been executed despite serious doubts about their guilt.

It does not deter crime. Countries who execute commonly cite the death penalty as a way to deter people from committing crime. This claim has been repeatedly discredited, and there is no evidence that the death penalty is any more effective in reducing crime than life imprisonment.

It is often used within skewed justice systems. In many cases recorded by Amnesty International, people were executed after being convicted in grossly unfair trials, on the basis of torture-tainted evidence and with inadequate legal representation. In some countries death sentences are imposed as the mandatory punishment for certain offences, meaning that judges are not able to consider the circumstances of the crime or of the defendant before sentencing.

It is discriminatory. The weight of the death penalty is disproportionately carried by those with less advantaged socio-economic backgrounds or belonging to a racial, ethnic or religious minority. This includes having limited access to legal representation, for example, or being at greater disadvantage in their experience of the criminal justice system.

It is used as a political tool. The authorities in some countries, for example Iran and Sudan, use the death penalty to punish political opponents.

crowdsourcing, data science & machine learning to measure violence & abuse against women on twitter

Posted in Books, Statistics, University life with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 3, 2019 by xi'an

Amnesty International just released on December 18 a study on abuse and harassment on twitter account of female politicians and journalists in the US and the UK. Realised through the collaboration of thousands of crowdsourced volunteers labeling  tweets from the database and the machine-learning expertise of the London branch of ElementAI, branch driven by my friend Julien Cornebise with the main purpose of producing AI for good (as he explained at the recent Bayes for good workshop). Including the development of an ML tool to detect abusive tweets, called Troll Patrol [which pun side is clear in French!]. The amount of abuse exposed by this study and the possibility to train AIs to spot [some of the] abuse on line are both arguments that support Amnesty International call for the accountability of social media companies like twitter on abuse and violence propagated through their platform. (Methodology is also made available there.)

Bayes for good

Posted in Books, Mountains, pictures, Running, Statistics, Travel, University life with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 27, 2018 by xi'an

A very special weekend workshop on Bayesian techniques used for social good in many different sense (and talks) that we organised with Kerrie Mengersen and Pierre Pudlo at CiRM, Luminy, Marseilles. It started with Rebecca (Beka) Steorts (Duke) explaining [by video from Duke] how the Syrian war deaths were processed to eliminate duplicates, to be continued on Monday at the “Big” conference, Alex Volfonsky (Duke) on a Twitter experiment on the impact of being exposed to adverse opinions as depolarising (not!) or further polarising (yes), turning into network causal analysis. And then Kerrie Mengersen (QUT) on the use of Bayesian networks in ecology, through observational studies she conducted. And the role of neutral statisticians in case of adversarial experts!

Next day, the first talk of David Corlis (Peace-Work), who writes the Stats for Good column in CHANCE and here gave a recruiting spiel for volunteering in good initiatives. Quoting Florence Nightingale as the “first” volunteer. And presenting a broad collection of projects as supports to his recommendations for “doing good”. We then heard [by video] Julien Cornebise from Element AI in London telling of his move out of DeepMind towards investing in social impacting projects through this new startup. Including working with Amnesty International on Darfour village destructions, building evidence from satellite imaging. And crowdsourcing. With an incoming report on the year activities (still under embargo). A most exciting and enthusiastic talk!

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AI for good

Posted in pictures, Statistics, Travel with tags , , , on December 26, 2017 by xi'an

Last week, I had a quick chat in front of the Luxembourg gardens with Julien Cornebise and he told me about the AI for Good Foundation with whom he was going to work through Element AI, after doing volunteer work with Amnesty International. Great!

freedom of speech in Turkey

Posted in Travel, University life with tags , , , , , on July 21, 2016 by xi'an

“EUA condemns strongly and unconditionally this action against universities and university staff, and expresses its heartfelt support for the higher education community in Turkey at this time.”

Following the failed attempt at a military coup in Turkey last week, Erdoğan’s government has sacked a huge number of public workers, including all Deans of Turkey’s universities and 15,200 education staff so far. Plus barring all academics from travelling abroad. Although Erdoğan’s government has been democratically elected and while the Turkish people’s actions against the military coup led it to fail, the current purge of the public sector does not proceed from democratic principles and the current Turkish constitution and laws. Further, it sounds like the crackdown is aimed at all forms of opposition rather than at those responsible for the coup, as illustrated by the closure of websites like WikiLeaks, journals and other media.