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Automating Society

Automating Society

This report  by by AlgorithmWatch in cooperation with Bertelsmann Stiftung, supported by the Open Society Foundations, has four main goals:

1. To show that algorithmically driven, automated decision-making (ADM) systems are
already in use all over the EU. So far, the discussion around the use of these systems, their
benefits and risks, has been dominated by examples from the US: assessing the recidivism
risk of criminals determining whether they are released on parole or stay in jail; teachers
being fired based on their automatically calculated performance scores; people in minority
neighbourhoods paying higher car insurance premiums than people from wealthy areas
with the same risk. So we want to make clear what similar and other ADM systems are in
use in the EU, in order to better inform the discussion about how to govern their use.

2. To outline the state of the political discussion not just on the EU level, but also in the
member countries. We all know that Europe’s diversity can be a burden when it comes to
information flow across borders, especially because of 24 different official languages. So
it was clear to us that we needed to change this situation as best we could by providing indepth
research from member countries in a shared language accessible to policy makers on
the EU level. We approached this challenge in the best of the Union’s traditions: As a crossborder,
trans-disciplinary collaboration, pooling contributors from 12 different countries
who speak their countries’ language(s) and understand their societies’ cultural contexts.

3. To serve as the nucleus for a network of researchers focusing on the impact of automated
decision-making on individuals and society. This network includes journalists
specialising in the nascent field of algorithmic accountability reporting, academics from
economics, sociology, media studies, law and political sciences, to lawyers working in civil
society organisations looking at the human rights implications of these developments. We
will attempt to build on this first round of research and extend the network in the coming
years because it is crucial to also include the many countries not covered in this initial

4. To distil recommendations from the results of our findings: for policy makers from the
EU parliament and Member States' legislators, the EU Commission, national governments,
researchers, civil society organisations (advocacy organisations, foundations, labour unions
etc.), and the private sector (companies and business associations).

File authors: 
AlgorithmWatch in cooperation with Bertelsmann Stiftung, supported by the Open Society Foundations
File date: 
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