Legal Aid Society


Brown Institute Annual Magic Grant Showcase: Decoding Differences in DNA Forensic Software

The Brown Institute for Media Innovation 2019 Showcase

The Legal Aid Society DNA Unit is a proud part of the project Decoding Differences in Forensic DNA Software:

Imagine testing the fingernail scrapings of a murder victim to determine if a suspect could be the killer, only to have one DNA interpretation software program incriminate the suspect and a different program absolve them. Such a scenario played out two years ago in the widely-publicized murder trial of Oral Nicholas Hillary, raising questions that the criminal justice system still cannot answer: why, when, and by how much do these programs differ from one another?

To answer these questions, this Magic Grant assembles a multi-disciplinary team — Jeanna Matthews is a Computer Scientist; Nathan Adams, a DNA investigations specialist; Jessica Goldthwaite with The Legal Aid Society; Dan Krane, a Biologist; Surya Mattu, a Journalist; and David Madigan, a Statistician. This Magic Grant project will systematically compare forensic DNA software, moving the story beyond anecdotal examples to a systematic investigative strategy. In the process, they will explore important issues of algorithmic transparency, and the role of complex software systems in the criminal justice system and beyond.

Come hear the 2018-2019 Magic Grantees discuss their projects.

Thursday, October 17

6 p.m. – 8 p.m.

Brown Institute at Columbia
2950 Broadway
New York, NY 10027
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The event is free; please click here to register.

For more information on all of the projects featured in this year’s showcase click here.