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A Research Agenda for Accountable Algorithms

May 12, 2015

What should people who are interested in accountability and algorithms be thinking about? Here is one answer: My eleven-minute remarks are now online from a recent event at NYU. I’ve edited them to intersperse my slides.

This talk was partly motivated by the ethics work being done in the machine learning community. That is very exciting and interesting work and I love, love, love it. My remarks are an attempt to think through the other things we might also need to do. Let me know how to replace the “??” in my slides with something more meaningful!

Preview: My remarks contain a minor attempt at a Michael Jackson joke.



A number of fantastic Social Media Collective people were at this conference — you can hear Kate Crawford in the opening remarks.  For more videos from the conference, see:

Algorithms and Accountability

Thanks to Joris van Hoboken, Helen Nissenbaum and Elana Zeide for organizing such a fab event.

If you bought this 11-minute presentation you might also buy: Auditing Algorithms, a forthcoming workshop at Oxford.



(This was cross-posted to multicast.)

3 Comments leave one →
  1. May 12, 2015 7:24 pm

    just watched this on Harvard’s blog – great presentation! I was wondering, however, what your thoughts might be about the influence of paid exposure in Facebook’s newsfeed. The presentation seemed to talk mostly about the organic algorithm. thanks again

  2. Christian Sandvig permalink
    May 15, 2015 10:34 pm

    Thank you! I think non-organic algorithms would fit the framework in the same way. The best study of ad placement algorithm problems so far is certainly Sweeney’s: Referring to that study, the author stated that people first noticed the problem while manually looking at the ads that came up after search results (discoverable, predictable).

    If you are in the ad industry you may be particularly convinced that advertising placement algorithms are in need of more accountability. Many people think that click fraud is rampant and advertisers do not receive the audience that they pay for.


  1. multicast » Blog Archive » Accountable Algorithms: A Research Agenda

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