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Ethical algorithm design should guide technology regulation

[2020.01.13, Mon 16:03] It should be based on what we have come to call ethical algorithm design, which is now being conducted by a community of hundreds of researchers. Ethical algorithm design begins with a precise understanding of what kinds of behaviors we want algorithms to avoid, and proceeds to design and deploy algorithms that avoid those behaviors. A stark difference in false positive rates between black and white inmates in a recidivism prediction algorithm known as COMPAS was the subject of a well-publicized 2016 ProPublica article. To summarize, there are now operational definitions of algorithmic privacy and fairness, some understanding of how to design algorithms that satisfy those definitions, and methods to audit whether a given algorithm or model violates them. Large technology companies typically protest calls to make their algorithms, models, or data more openly accessible, on the grounds that it severely compromises their intellectual property. It must be guided by the emerging science of ethical algorithm design, which can both shed light on the specific social properties we want from algorithms and give us guidance on how to audit and enforce these properties. Michael Kearns and Aaron Roth are authors of "The Ethical Algorithm: The Science of Socially Aware Algorithm Design," a new book on how to embed human principles into machine code without halting the advance of data-driven scientific exploration.
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