March 9, 2017

DNA Algorithms

Imagine you’re investigating a murder. You have a suspect in mind. But the only physical evidence you find at the crime scene is a speck of DNA. It’s too small to examine with usual scientific methods. So what can you do? In the past: nothing—the DNA was useless. But new technologies can analyze small bits of DNA through a computer program. These programs calculate how much more likely it is that a suspect contributed to a DNA sample than a random person. They’re supposed to make DNA analysis more accurate. But do they? And at what cost?

This story explores these questions. We speak with U.C Berkeley Law Professor Andrea Roth. We also hear from DNA expert Bicka Barlow.

For more information about the way machine evidence is being used in court, read Professor Roth’s scholarship on this issue here and here.


REPORTERS: Christina Koningisor
MUSIC: Luke Larix - The Fifth Gnossiennes

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