Review of Automating Inequality - the Indiana case

In this review of Virginia Eubanks's book Automating Inequality, the author of the review looks at the three main case studies Eubanks explores in her book: the attempt to automate and privatise the welfare system elligibility management in the state of Indiana in 2006, the use of a coordinated entry system in Los Angeles County to address homelessness and the Allegheny Family Screening Tool that attempts to predict child abuse in Pennsylvania. He focuses in particular on Indiana, a state that had signed a contract with IBM.

Indiana later terminated this contract at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars because of the system’s inherent biases, its tripling of Indiana’s error rate in denying benefits to people who should have been eligible, and the harm and suffering it caused applicants and recipients, who were some of the most vulnerable families in the state. The Indiana experiment revealed how costly it was, both in terms of dollars and, more importantly, in terms of human suffering, to attempt to automate the provision of benefits, and how much private companies can profit from such attempts.

Author: Jake Whitney

Publication: The Progressive