Predict death with 90% accuracy without facts? According to an article on April 27 in the Christian Science Monitor, titled “Using Software to Model Death Row Outcomes”:

… an artificial neural network managed to… predict with more than 90 percent accuracy who would be executed.

What some observers find alarming about the outcome is that the 19 points of data supplied on each death-row inmate contained no details of the case. Only facts such as age, race, sex, and marital status were included, along with the date and type of offense.

What does this tell us? I am addressing this to law firm leaders but this should be equally fascinating to every lawyer, especially litigators. As lawyers we trust our power to reason and we rely upon that power in others. Do we rely upon this assumption to our own detriment? If you want to comprehend this, you must read Blink by Malcolm Gladwell (which is today #3 in the New York Times Best Selling List). blink_lg.jpg