Naughty or Nice?

As we rapidly enter the festive weekend, Santa and his elves are working to finalise exactly who belongs on those naughty and nice lists. Safe in the knowledge that everyone in our office is on the nice list (**awkward glance**) this got us thinking, imagine if Santa used Neotas to help him get through the workload. Would he really think those Snaps and Instagram selfies were the act of a ‘nice’ girl? Does the banter on Twitter potentially cross a line and push you on to the naughty list? How about that Tinder profile which might not necessarily accurately reflect the real you? To be honest, we don’t judge anyone by these standards and we aren’t convinced that Santa would really judge anyone for any of these things either, however some of the individuals that we have looked at this year are definitely receiving coal.

From employee screenings with individuals involved in football violence against police officers to international business men involved in modern slavery and illegal arms and drugs smuggling, the Neotas team have seen our fair share of naughtiness. We’ve seen the fraudsters who almost signed the important business deal to those who’ve been hired without relevant qualifications. We’ve uncovered addictions, crime, hate, bullying, and stalking and this is just a small sample of our findings for the year. All of these and so many more are definitely on our naughty list as well as Santa’s. But not everything is doom and gloom, we’ve also seen a lot of nice listers!

The volunteers and fundraisers who are making a difference in the lives of those around them. The entrepreneurs with a thirst for success who got that big investment. The thought leaders who potentially struggle in an interview but thrive online. The fitness fanatics who are consistently bettering themselves and achieving new levels of personal triumph. The modest award winners who fail to mention their skills and accolades on their CV. The Neotas nice list is definitely longer than the naughty list.

Regardless of what your footprint says about you and whether you find yourself on the naughty or nice list this Christmas, Neotas would like to wish our clients, partners, friends and everyone else a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year. Here’s to 2018…Now if only your online footprint could reset as easily as the calendar!

Automation vs. the Workplace

In early 2017, New Jersey implemented an algorithm: it generates a score and gives counsel to judges. The algorithm advises them as to whether they should grant bail to detainees. This process entirely replaces bail hearings. It’s possible for the judge to never see the subject they sentence, and to never to see the effect of their judgement.  

While this sounds dystopian I can recognise the benefit. An impartial, free from bias sentence – the theory is perfect. The practice is distorted. Algorithms operate based upon past data. But what happens when past data is warped? What happens in a judicial system that has been marred by racism for countless years? What happens when past data reflects the racist history of a nation? 

The answer is simple – that tendency continues. Black people are therefore less likely to be released on bail than white people. I, and I hope you, can see that this isn’t just or fair. How can we teach machines when humans haven’t got it right yet? 

Judges are analysts at their core. They learn facts, process, and output. The similarity between them and machines ends there – Judges understand ethics; machines don’t. Judges can process extraneous factors; machines can’t. Judges are swayed by ideological movements; machines aren’t.  

Automation is a tide flowing through each sector – a tsunami threatening to crumble industries, to damage the bedrock that is the foundation of our society. And automation might well do so for many walks of life, but other paths, like that of the humble analyst, can stand proud and untouched. Morality, ethics, and processing in the wake of true understanding is what distinguishes us from machines. Analysts can provide this; machines cannot. Is there place for humans in this world of increasingly automated processes?  

I believe yes. If in the distant future all work is automated save sectors of compassion, morality and ethics, then surely the AI, NPR and automotive drive has in fact freed us to be more human: to analyse with greater clarity. This is why I think Neotas will retain value in the face of automation – we retain the human component.

Daniel Burke-Ward