Decisions, Decisions

When you browse online for a new pair of shoes, pick a movie to stream on Netflix or apply for a car loan, an algorithm likely has its word to say on the outcome, reports Times of India. The complex mathematical formulas are playing a growing role in all walks of life: from detecting skin cancers to suggesting new Facebook friends, deciding who gets a job, how police resources are deployed, who gets insurance at what cost, or who is on a “no fly” list. Algorithms are being used — experimentally — to write news articles from raw data, while Donald Trump’s presidential campaign was helped by behavioural marke­ters who used an algorithm to locate the highest concentrations of “persuadable voters.” But while automated tools can inject a measure of objectivity into erstwhile subjective decisions, fears are rising over the lack of transparency these can entail, with pressure growing to apply standards of ethics or “accountability.” Data scientist Cathy O’Neil cautions about “blindly trusting” formulas to determine a fair outcome. “Algorithms are not inherently fair, because the person who builds the model defines success,” she said.

A White House report last year said algorithmic systems “are not infallible — they rely on the imperfect inputs, logic, probability, and people who design them”. Zeynep Tufekci, a University of North Carolina professor who studies technology and society, said automated decisions are often based on data collected about people, sometimes without their knowledge. “These computational systems can infer your sexual orientation, your personality traits, your political leanings. They have predictive power with high levels of accuracy,” Tufekci said. Frank Pasquale, a University of Maryland law professor and author of ‘The Black Box Society: The Secret Algorithms That Control Money and Information,’ points at the EU’s data protection law, set from next year to create a “right of explanation” when consumers are impacted by an algorithmic decision, as a model that could be expanded.

SJP @DigitalAsian - ShareYaar


Popular posts from this blog

THE HISTORY OF INDIAN ART HISTORY - Free eBook by Debashish Banerji - IdeaIndia.Com

Underused Talent

Founders Keepers?