Wednesday, December 23, 2015

New Paper - The Threat of Algocracy: Reality, Resistance and Accommodation

I have a new paper coming out in the journal Philosophy and Technology. The final version won't be out for a couple of months but you can access the most up to date pre-print version below. Here are the full details:

Title: The Threat of Algocracy: Reality, Resistance and Accommodation
Journal: Philosophy and Technology
Links: Philpapers;; Official (Not available yet) 

Abstract: One of the most noticeable trends in recent years has been the increasing reliance of public decision-making processes (bureaucratic, legislative and legal) on algorithms, i.e. computer programmed step-by-step instructions for taking a given set of inputs and producing an output. The question raised by this article is whether the rise of such algorithmic governance creates problems for the moral or political legitimacy of our public decision-making processes. Ignoring common concerns with data protection and privacy, it is argued that algorithm-driven decision-making does pose a significant threat to the legitimacy of such processes. Modeling my argument on Estlund’s threat of epistocracy, I call this the ‘threat of algocracy’. The article clarifies the nature of this threat, and addresses two possible solutions (named, respectively, “resistance” and “accommodation”). It is argued that neither solution is likely to be successful, at least not without risking many other things we value about social decision-making. The result is a somewhat pessimistic conclusion in which we confront the possibility that we are creating decision-making processes that constrain and limit opportunities for human participation. 

The basic argument will be familiar to those who listened to my interview on the topic last year, or who watched this talk I delivered. But the paper does cover it all in more detail.

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