On November 7th I attended the Algorithms Transparency and Accountability in the Digital Economy roundtable event that was organized by MEP Marietje Schaake for the purpose of “discussing which options the European Union has to improve the accountability and/or the transparency of the algorithms that underpin many business models and platforms in the digital single market.”
In an almost suspiciously conspiracy-like fashion the official launch of UnBias at the start of September was immediately accompanied by a series of news articles providing examples of problems with algorithms that are making recommendations or controlling the flow of information. Cases like the unintentional racial bias in a machine learning based beauty contest algorithm, meant to remove bias of human judges; a series of embarrassing news recommendations on the Facebook trending topics feed, as a results of an attempt to avoid (appearance of) bias by getting rid of human editors; and controversy about Facebook’s automated editorial decision to remove the Pulitzer prize-winning “napalm girl” photograph because the image was identifies as containing nudity. My view of these events? “Facebook’s algorithms give it more editorial responsibility – not less“ (published today in the Conversation).