What Europe Knows and Thinks about Algorithms

“Algorithm” has become one of our era’s prominent buzzwords, with hardly any political or economic debate lacking some reference. Media coverage of algorithms is also growing dramatically – today, the topic can even be found on newspapers’ front pages. However – or perhaps because of this – it is worth taking a look beneath the […]

All I want for christmas is a quality criteria catalogue for algorithms.

Data scientists roaming the room, visitors having busy conversations, christmas jingles in the background, setting the mood for the evening. Last week I presented the #algorules project at the Berlin based Data Science Agency idalab, asking questions like “What standards of quality could algorithms be held to?” and “How is it possible to make sure that these standards […]

What strategies are needed to ensure machines serve humankind?

Impact assessments, seals of quality for the origin and quality of data, creating class-action rights for federal anti-discrimination agencies, establishing an agency with algorithmic oversight – there are several ways to go about making sure that algorithmic systems are used for the well-being of everyone in society. The working paper “Machines in the Service of […]

Using algorithms to predict death: Lessons learned

Animals are extraordinary beings. Oscar the cat, for example. Adopted as a kitten by the staff at a nursing home in the United States, he grew up surrounded by people with end-stage dementia. At some point staff members noticed something unusual: Oscar did not interact much with people, but when he made himself comfortable next […]

How algorithms can save people from an early death

It’s a scene characteristic for medical series such as House, MD or ER: An alarm goes off and the rapid response team rushes in to revive a patient. But what if the warning had come hours before the life-threatening event actually occurred? The US Food and Drug Administration recently greenlighted a system designed to provide […]

Quality Criteria for Algorithms – Lessons from Existing Compendia

What operations should algorithms be allowed to perform? What standards of quality should they be held to? For what purposes may they be used? Although they are deeply relevant for society, we have yet to reach a social consensus on these issues. A number of international organizations seek to answer these questions by formulating quality […]