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[Databite No. 140] Governing an Algorithm in the Wild | David Robinson (Alex Rosenblat)
Algorithms make a wide range of morally important decisions, and many people now argue that members of the public should be more directly involved in deciding the moral tradeoffs that such systems entail. But most ideas for public or stakeholder involvement are still on the drawing board, and there are few real stories of public deliberation over the design of a morally important algorithm. This talk explores one such story.

On December 4, 2014, the algorithm that allocates kidneys for transplant in the United States was replaced, following more than a decade of debate and planning. The development process was highly transparent and participatory, faced hard ethical questions explicitly, and incorporated elements of simulation and auditing that scholars often recommend. Scientist and researcher David Robinson will describe how this story played out — including a twist ending — and will draw out four broader lessons to inform the design of participation strategies for other high stakes algorithms. The talk will be hosted by Data & Society Senior Researcher, Alex Rosenblat.

Closed captioning provided. Please email events@datasociety.net with any other accessibility at least 72 hours prior to the event. Documentation, including video, transcript, and resources, will be available on our website afterwards.

Dec 8, 2020 03:00 PM in Eastern Time (US and Canada)

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David G. Robinson
Visiting Scientist @Cornell University
David G. Robinson is currently a Visiting Scientist in the AI Policy and Practice Initiative, in Cornell's College of Computing and Information Science. His research centers on the design and management of algorithmic decision making, particularly in the public sector. He believes that effective governance of these sociotechnical systems will require collaboration and mutual adaptation by the legal and technical communities, leading to changes in both institutional and algorithmic design, as well as the generation and use of new types of data. Through his work, he aims to contribute to that effort. He is a managing director and cofounder of Upturn, a Washington DC-based public interest organization that promotes equity and justice in the design, governance and use of digital technology. Upturn's research and advocacy combines technical fluency and creative policy thinking to confront patterns of inequity, especially those rooted in race and poverty.
Alex Rosenblat
Senior Researcher @Data & Society
Alex Rosenblat is an ethnographer who studies how people experience technology. She also examines the rhetorical claims that shape the stories we tell about the impact of technology on society. Rosenblat is the author of Uberland: How Algorithms Are Rewriting the Rules of Work. A Senior Researcher at Data & Society and a Fellow at the Aspen Institute Tech Policy Hub, she holds an MA in sociology from Queen’s University and a BA in history from McGill University. Her published research is situated at the intersection of technology and labor, and her upcoming research explores sovereignties, nationalisms, and the fragmentation of shared social facts.