The Promise and Threat of Algorithmic Accountability with Guest Speaker Frank Pasquale

March 25, 2016 |
2:00 pm to 3:00 pm
Clark 108

Guest Speaker:  Frank Pasquale, Professor of Law, University of Maryland Law School


Frank Pasquale's research addresses the challenges posed information law by rapidly changing technology, particularly in the health care, internet, and finance industries.  He is a member of the NSF-funded Council for Big Data, Ethics, and Society, and an Affiliate Fellow of Yale Law School's Information Society Project.  He frequently presents on the ethical, legal, and social implications of information technology for attorneys, physicians, and other health professionals.  His book  The Black Box Society: The secret Algorithms that Control Money and Information (Harvard University Press, 2015) develops a social theory of reputation, search, and finance.

Abstract of Presentation:

From search engine results to credit scores, software orders and weights hundreds of variables into clean, simple interfaces, taking us from question to answer in a fraction of a second. But the rise of big data and predictive analytics in media and finance has alarmed many academics, activists, journalists and legal experts. Three aspects of algorithmic ordering information have provoked particular scrutiny. The data used may be inaccurate or inappropriate. Algorithmic modeling may be biased or limited.  And the uses of algorithms are still opaque in many critical sectors.

Policymakers must address each of these problems, but face two major obstacles.  First, how can regulators apply expert judgment given rapidly changing technology and business practices? Second, when is human review essential-and when will controversies over one algorithmic ordering merely result in a second computational analysis of a contested matter?  Focusing on recent controversies over the "right to be forgotten" and alternative credit scoring (such as proposals to base loan approvals on qualities of the applicant's social network contacts), this talk will propose reforms essential to humane automation of new media and banking.