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Saturday, 30th January 2016

Digital Decisions: Policy Tools in Automated Decision-Making

Source: Center for Democracy and Technology

From Abstract:

Digital technology has empowered new voices, made the world more accessible, and increased the speed of almost every decision we make as businesses, communities, and individuals. Much of this convenience is powered by lines of code that rapidly execute instructions based on rules set by programmers (or, in the case of machine learning, generated from statistical correlations in massive datasets)—otherwise known as algorithms. The technology that drives our automated world is sophisticated and obscure, making it difficult to determine how the decisions made by automated systems might fairly or unfairly, positively or negatively, impact individuals. It is also harder to identify where bias may inadvertently arise. Algorithmically driven outcomes are influenced, but not exclusively determined, by technical and legal limitations. The landscape of algorithmic decision-making is also shaped by policy choices in technology companies and by government agencies. Some automated systems create positive outcomes for individuals, and some threaten a fair society. By looking at a few case studies and drawing out the prevailing policy principle, we can draw conclusions about how to critically approach the existing web of automated decision-making.

+ Direct link to document (PDF; 190 KB)



Having begun his career in academic libraries, Adrian Janes has subsequently worked extensively in public libraries, chiefly in enquiry work as an Information Services librarian. In this role he has had particular responsibility for information from both the UK Government and the European Union. He wrote a detailed report on sources for the latter which was published by FreePint in 2007, and has contributed articles to FreePint and ResourceShelf. He is involved in training in information literacy and the use of online reference resources.

A Contributing Editor to DocuTicker, he also write reviews for Pennyblackmusic.

More articles by Adrian Janes »

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