reportJune 29 2021

Assembling Accountability: Algorithmic Impact Assessment for the Public Interest

Emanuel Moss
Elizabeth Anne Watkins
Ranjit Singh
Madeleine Clare Elish
Jacob Metcalf

The Algorithmic Impact Assessment is a new concept for regulating algorithmic systems and protecting the public interest. Assembling Accountability: Algorithmic Impact Assessment for the Public Interest is a report that maps the challenges of constructing algorithmic impact assessments (AIAs) and provides a framework for evaluating the effectiveness of current and proposed AIA regimes. This framework is a practical tool for regulators, advocates, public-interest technologists, technology companies, and critical scholars who are identifying, assessing, and acting upon algorithmic harms.

First, report authors Emanuel Moss, Elizabeth Anne Watkins, Ranjit Singh, Madeleine Clare Elish, and Jacob Metcalf analyze the use of impact assessment in other domains, including finance, the environment, human rights, and privacy. Building on this comparative analysis, they then identify common components of existing impact assessment practices in order to provide a framework for evaluating current and proposed AIA regimes. The authors find that a singular, generalized model for AIAs would not be effective due to the variances of governing bodies, specific systems being evaluated, and the range of impacted communities.

After illustrating the novel decision points required for the development of effective AIAs, the report specifies ten necessary components that constitute robust impact assessment regimes.


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