Join journalists from FiveThirtyEight and The Guardian US for our next Hacks/Hackers NYC meetup on simulation games in news. We'll be talking about why and how they decided to use interactive algorithmic simulations to explain how statistical risk assessment affects parole and prison sentencing decisions, and different scenarios for measles vaccination.
6:30 p.m.: Doors, dinner + socializing
7 p.m.: A look at:
• "Should Prison Sentences Be Based On Crimes That Haven’t Been Committed Yet?" with Reuben Fischer-Baum & Matthew Conlen, FiveThirtyEight*
• "Watch how the measles outbreak spreads when kids get vaccinated – and when they don't" with Rich Harris & Nadja Popovich, The Guardian US**
~8:00 p.m.: Hiring announcements, networking and socializing
To attend the July 19 Hacks/Hackers NYC meetup on "Simulation Games in News" RSVP today ($10, payable in advance) to Hacks/Hackers NYC.
Refund policy: Cancel at least 24 hours before the event (that is, no later than 6:30 p.m. July 18) to receive a full refund. We cannot issue refunds after July 18.
A big thanks to Paperless Post for hosting us this month!
* "Should Prison Sentences Be Based On Crimes That Haven’t Been Committed Yet?" was a collaboration between FiveThirtyEight and The Marshall Project on the use of statistical risk assessments in parole decisions, bail hearings and — as of recently — sentencing. The piece contained two interactive components, including a simulator that walked readers through a risk assessment scenario. Users set thresholds to classify prisoners as “low”, “medium”, and “high” risk to commit another crime, and then watched as prisoners were assigned to their groups and either released on parole or held in prison accordingly. The goal of this simulation was to show readers that all risk assessment systems — either statistical or based solely on judge/parole board decisions — are a balancing act that involve a great deal of uncertainty. If too many are sent to the "high risk" group, then the prison becomes overcrowded with people who should have been released. If too many are sent to the “low risk” group, then recidivism rates increase. Whatever thresholds users felt were most correct were based on their own judgements of what a successful criminal justice system should accomplish.
** "Watch how the measles outbreak spreads when kids get vaccinated – and when they don't" was a response to the conversation surrounding last year's Disneyland measles outbreak At the time, plenty of stories were going around arguing why low vaccination rates in certain communities were harmful and insisting that parents should vaccinate their kids. The goal of the simulation was to explain an often talked about but poorly understood concept: how 'herd immunity' protects the entire community, but only if a certain vaccination threshold is reached. The project visualizes the outcome of ten simulated scenarios with hypothetical – and real-world – vaccination rates, ranging from almost none to almost 100% coverage. It communicated the science in a playful, easy-to-grasp way that resonated with readers: Nathan Yau, in his '10 Best Data Visualization Projects of 2015' roundup, said "The parent in me wants to make this whole list this one interactive".