Predictive Policing

Jackie Wang provides a thorough introduction to the fallacies and justifications for predictive policing in “This is a Story About Nerds and Cops.”  In the piece, Wang writes about the ways that predictive policing is utilized to reassure the public of the supposedly bias-free impetus behind police activities as well as the impossibility of predictive policing to be neutral.  Additionally, Wang notes that the affective dimension of fear and the desire for safety may, in many ways, be manufactured or at least be incommensurate with actual threats –

Empirically, there is no basis for the belief that there is an unprecedented crime boom that threatens to unravel society, but affective investments in this worldview expand the domain of surveillance and policing and authorizes what Manuel Abreu calls “algorithmic necropower.” The security state’s calculation of risk through data-mining techniques sanctions the targeting of “threats” for death or disappearance. Though the goal of algorithmic policing is, ostensibly, to reduce crime, if there were no social threats to manage, these companies would be out of business.

“This is a Story About Nerds and Cops” is included in Carceral Capitalism, a book of Wang’s essays, and is available online in e-flux (87) at