Let me get this off my chest first: Jesus Diaz (the Gizmodo writer) is an idiot of the most supreme caliber. His MO on the Gizmodo is to write ill-researched inflammatory articles. Over time I have figured that these must be written solely to stir up internet frenzy and increase page views. More power to him, but it automatically disadvantages his opinions for me.
Now that the ad-hominem is out of the way, let me get to the meat of it. The conclusions here are 100% wrong. What we do is provide Juvenile Justice departments (which is almost always Juvenile Probation) with tools, in the form of academically validated models, that help them determine which kids are at highest risk to re-offend. We're also able to determine, with a high degree of accuracy (thank you academia!) what the kids biggest needs areas are.
So how does all of this information actually get used? It turns out that it's used in amazingly great ways. It helps keep children placed in their own homes, not in residential treatment, juvenile hall, or the state's Youth Authority. We've had jurisdictions report out-of-home placements drop by 50% after implementing our tools. It also means that a Probation Officer can focus on kids that are at a high risk to re-offend, and have minimal contact with kids that are at a low risk to re-offend. As it turns out, the PHds that come up with these tools are able to determine that having lots of contact with the criminal justice system is bad for kids that are low risk - so it really helps to know the kids that minimal intervention is the best path for. Another benefit of this sort of classification scheme (which works just as well for adults) is that the officers (who are time constrained) are able to spend more time with their higher risk kids because they aren't spending as much time with their low risk kids. This probably seems obvious to most readers, but I'm surprised by the number of commenters that don't get that last point.
My final point is that these kids are already getting put into treatment programs, like anger management, or drug counseling, or teenage parent classes. That happens regardless of whether or not a jurisdiction uses software like ours. What this type of analytic software does is help take away the "gut instinct" part of program placement and give the officer a little more guidance into what programs will be most effective. If you can only send a kid to one program, why make it an anger management class when, after an assessment, you are able to determine that it's actually his drug use and poor school attendance that are his biggest risk factors?
So in the end, this isn't about pre-crime, or thought-crime, or any sort of Orwellian conspiracy. It is, quite literally, about helping place minors (and adults) that have already committed crimes against people or their community, into programs that have the statistically best chance of helping them not commit another crime. The best part is, the followup data from jurisdictions using this type of software suggests that it works, with fewer placements and less recidivism.
Oh, and Jesus Diaz is a idiot (man that feels good.)
"Just think of a computer as hardware you can program." -- Nigel de la Tierre