Financial crimes might be too complicated to take to trial.
The mistrial [in the Dewey & LeBoeuf case], after four months in court and 22 days of deliberations, hints at a much deeper problem: Perhaps most financial crime has reached a level of such complexity that it’s beyond the reach of the law.
Since the financial crisis sent the economy into a spiral, leading to millions of lost jobs and foreclosed homes, there have been public cries to see bankers responsible for the frauds underpinning the crisis put in jail. This would have fit with the pattern of how things have gone since the beginning of time: Booms and bubbles led to market collapses and crises, followed by the tightening of regulations and criminal prosecutions. In the case of 2008, however, the crackdown never really came.
Source: Has It Become Impossible to Prosecute White-Collar Crime? – Bloomberg
Unenforceable drug laws foster a culture of lawlessness that drives up homicides.
To argue for legalization of marijuana and decriminalization of other drugs does not, at first blush, appear to put one on the side of the angels, especially given the accelerating heroin epidemic. But legalization and decriminalization are what we need if we want to make headway against mass incarceration, high homicide rates in urban black communities and poor educational outcomes in urban schools. If we view drug use as a public health problem, not a crime, we can fight drugs without producing the other sorts of social damage we see all around us.
Source: How the war on drugs creates violence – The Washington Post
New York City won’t reveal how often cops bombard places, vehicles, or people with radiation—or if there are health risks for residents.
The overarching theme here is a law enforcement community that has never seen a technology that causes it to say, “We’d better ask if the public wants us to use this or not.”
Source: The NYPD’s X-Ray Vans – The Atlantic
You don’t see it coming. You probably couldn’t if you tried. The effects of large changes in scale are frequently beyond our powers…
Both $1 million and $1 billion sound like “a lot,” so it’s not immediately clear how such changes in wealth might also change what a builder sees as a “big enough” house. Even those who understand the true scale of the chasm between those numbers intellectually don’t always “get it” viscerally. It feels like the difference between a million and a billion is closer to a factor of three than a factor of 1,000. That’s because our brain naturally works using something like a logarithmic scale, so that it can condense information like vast ranges in loudness and brightness efficiently.
Predicting the qualitative effects of quantitative changes takes more than mere genius. It takes a willingness to accept the unacceptable
Scientists often have to come up with stories to translate what they see with their instruments and equations into something they—and we—can understand.
The physicist Bartlett, concerned with resource exhaustion, came up with a story of bacteria living in a Coke bottle. Imagine putting two bacteria in a soda bottle at 11 a.m. Assume the population doubles once every minute, and that by noon, the bottle is full. What time would it be before the bacteria-land politicians noticed that the population was running out of space? The answer is 11:59. After all, at 11:59, the bottle is still half empty! And what if the enterprising bacteria decide to drill for bottles offshore, and bring back three whole new empty bottles! How much time does that give the bacteria? Two more minutes.
Stories like these have more than mere narrative power. Following the strategy of the bacteria, perhaps social media can be used as a kind of quorum sensing, crowd-sourcing perception.
Source: Why We Can’t Grasp the Scale of Climate Change, Population Growth, or Societal Tipping Points
Using DNA for criminal investigations is great—until it turns an innocent person into a suspect.
Cops are asking companies like Ancestry.com and 23andMe for their customers’ DNA.
Source: Your Relative’s DNA Could Turn You Into a Suspect | WIRED