Bayes Centre

3D Laser Scanners and the “Datafication” of Expertise

Presented by Dr. Stacy Wood, School of Computing and Information, University of Pittsburgh

3D laser scanners are increasingly deployed by police departments to aid crime-scene reconstruction for investigatory purposes as well as by prosecutors to create visually coherent narrative devices for the courtroom. Companies such as FARO and Leica create these scanners and their attendant software, providing training for officers and civilian employees on data processing, handling and presentation. Utilizing rotating mirrors, a high-speed laser and a built-in digital camera to rapidly photograph and measure a scene these devices rely on software and users to transform a mass of measurement data into a visually recognizable reconstruction. Not only does this process create a new kind of expertise in the person facile enough with the software to produce a usable forensic object, but this technology also displaces or at the very least challenges other forms of expertise through its encoding of forensic science. In particular, blood spatter analysis and shot-trajectory analysis, two forms of forensic science widely disputed in courtrooms are taken as a given within the software, and through datafication, the science is made unimpeachable. Expert testimony is now given by software engineers or CEOS, as we saw in the defense’s use of 3D laser reconstruction in prosecution of Jason Van Dyke

Stacy Wood is Assistant Professor in the School of Computing and Information Science at the University of Pittsburgh. She is a critical scholar of archives, information policy and information studies who engages with the legal and cultural aspects of records and technology.

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Jul 23 2019 -

3D Laser Scanners and the “Datafication” of Expertise

Institute for the Study of Science, Technology and Innovation

Old Surgeons’ Hall first floor Seminar Room
High School Yards