Algorithmic Transparency: End Secret Profiling

Disclose the basis of automated decisionmaking
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  • EPIC has ESP
  • Open the Code
  • Code Should Not Discriminate

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White House Report on the Future of Artificial Intelligence

In May 2016, the White House announced a series of workshops and a working group devoted to studying the benefits and risks of AI. The announcement recognized the "array of considerations" raised by AI, including those "in privacy, security, regulation, [and] law." The White House established a Subcommittee on Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence within the National Science and Technology Council.

Over the next three months, the White House co-hosted a series of four workshops on AI:

EPIC Advisory Board members Jack Balkin, danah boyd, Ryan Calo, Danielle Citron, Ed Felten, Ian Kerr, Helen Nissenbaum, Frank Pasquale, and Latanya Sweeney each participated in one or more of the workshops.

The White House Office of Science and Technology issued a Request for Information in June 2016 soliciting public input on the subject of AI. The RFI indicated that the White House was particularly interested in "the legal and governance implications of AI," "the safety and control issues for AI," and "the social and economic implications of AI," among other issues. The White House received 161 responses.

On October 12, 2016, The White House announced two reports on the impact of Artificial Intelligence on the US economy and related policy concerns: Preparing for the Future of Artificial Intelligence and National Artificial Intelligence Research and Development Strategic Plan.

Preparing for the Future of Artificial Intelligence surveys the current state of AI, its applications, and emerging challenges for society and public policy. As Deputy U.S Chief Technology Officer and EPIC Advisory Board member Ed Felten writes for the White House blog, the report discusses "how to adapt regulations that affect AI technologies, such as automated vehicles, in a way that encourages innovation while protecting the public" and "how to ensure that AI applications are fair, safe, and governable." The report concludes that "practitioners must ensure that AI-enabled systems are governable; that they are open, transparent, and understandable; that they can work effectively with people; and that their operation will remain consistent with human values and aspirations."

The companion report, National Artificial Intelligence Research and Development Strategic Plan, proposes a strategic plan for Federally-funded research and development in AI. The plan identifies seven priorities for federally-funded AI research, including strategies to "understand and address the ethical, legal, and societal implications of AI" and "ensure the safety and security of AI systems."

The day after the reports were released, the White House held a Frontiers Conference co-hosted by Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh. Also in October, Wired magazine published an interview with President Obama and EPIC Advisory Board member Joi Ito.

EPIC's Interest

EPIC has promoted Algorithmic Transparency for many years and is has litigated several cases on the front lines of AI. EPIC's cases include:

EPIC has also filed amicus briefs supporting in Cahen v. Toyota that discusses the risks inherent in connected cars and has filed comments on issues of big data and algorithmic transparency.

EPIC also has a strong interest in algorithmic transparency in criminal justice. Secrecy of the algorithms used to determine guilt or innocence undermines faith in the criminal justice system. In support of algorithmic transparency, EPIC submitted FOIA requests to six states to obtain the source code of "TrueAllele," a software product used in DNA forensic analysis. According to news reports, law enforcement officials use TrueAllele test results to establish guilt, but individuals accused of crimes are denied access to the source code that produces the results.


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