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Commentary: A "Source" of Error: Computer Code, Criminal Defendants, and the Constitution

Abstract

Chessman (2017) warns of the current trend to admit into court unchallenged the results of complex computerized calculations. He provides a number of examples and arguments claimed to demonstrate the need for open source software to remove the “black box” element. We agree with parts of this sentiment, and the topic of this special issue, that there is a danger with those using and receiving information from black box systems. Some care however is needed with simple diagnoses and prescriptions such as these. Modern probabilistic genotyping software are replacing methods previously applied manually. We have great confidence in the forensic community with regard to both integrity and dedication. The previously applied processes are usually a composite of standard operating procedure and human judgment. The difference between these and probabilistic software is largely that the processes in the software are encoded.

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