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The Threat of Algocracy: Reality, Resistance and Accommodation

The Threat of Algocracy: Reality, Resistance and Accommodation 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 algorithmic governance does pose a significant threat to the legitimacy of such processes. Modelling 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. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Philosophy & Technology Springer Journals

The Threat of Algocracy: Reality, Resistance and Accommodation

Philosophy & Technology , Volume 29 (3) – Jan 9, 2016

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Publisher
Springer Journals
Copyright
Copyright © 2016 by Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht
Subject
Philosophy; Philosophy of Technology
ISSN
2210-5433
eISSN
2210-5441
DOI
10.1007/s13347-015-0211-1
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

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 algorithmic governance does pose a significant threat to the legitimacy of such processes. Modelling 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.

Journal

Philosophy & TechnologySpringer Journals

Published: Jan 9, 2016

References