You’re reading Significant Digits, a daily digest of the numbers tucked inside the news.
10 percent drop in crime
President Trump, in defense of his hardline anti-immigration policies, tweeted that crime in Germany was “way up” and that it was “up 10% plus … since migrants were accepted.” In fact, it appears it’s been just the opposite. Crime in Germany in 2017 was down 10 percent from the year before and was at its lowest level since 1992, according to figures released in May by the German interior minister. [The Washington Post]
86 percent of arrests
Starting this fall, the New York Police Department will stop arresting most of those caught smoking marijuana in the city and will instead hand out a summons or a ticket. According to a WNYC report, 86 percent of those arrested for smoking or possessing marijuana the year before were black or Hispanic. [WNYC]
A trio of my colleagues teamed up to analyze and visualize more than 100,000 legal cases in New York City. It turns out that, if you are arrested, whether you get bail and whether you can pay it all depend on your randomly assigned judge. “We can identify whether defendants are being treated equally regardless of who hears their case,” my colleagues wrote. “They are not.” [FiveThirtyEight]
68.5 million people
A record 68.5 million people around the world were forcibly displaced — by war, violence and persecution — in 2017, according to a new United Nations report. Four out of five refugees — the majority of whom left Syria — were fleeing to neighboring countries. Of the 3.1 million people seeking asylum, the highest numbers turned to the U.S., Germany, Italy and Turkey. The U.S. received 331,700 asylum requests, per the report. [NPR]
BitTorrent — an important player in decentralized computing and an invaluable source of pirated feature films for, uh, some of my college friends — has been sold to Tron (not to be confused with Tronc), a blockchain media startup, for $140 million. Tron’s stated mission is to build “a truly decentralized Internet and its infrastructure.” Good luck — that has proven excruciatingly difficult for Richard Hendricks and Pied Piper. [TechCrunch]
100s of millions of newspaper and journal articles
Checkers, chess, Go, “Jeopardy!,” our cars, our jobs. Artificial intelligence comes for them all. Next: human discourse. IBM’s Project Debater, its memory packed with hundreds of millions of newspaper and journal articles, debuted this week, facing off against a former Israeli debate champion. The project is the latest “grand challenge” for IBM. The company’s previous challenges produced Deep Blue and Watson. By the way, I’d have named it Blinkin’ Douglas. [NBC News]
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