Machine learning is being used to help protect children, but it raises ethical questions
Technology has advanced enormously in the 30 years since the introduction of the first Children Act, which shaped the UK’s system of child safeguarding. Today a computer-generated analysis – “machine learning” that produces predictive analytics – can help social workers assess the probability of a child coming on to the at-risk register. It can also help show how they might prevent that happening.
But with technological advances come dilemmas unimaginable back in 1989. Is it right for social workers to use computers to help promote the welfare of children in need? If it is right, what data should they draw on to do that?