Automated Decision Systems 1, 2017

Statement on Algorithmic Transparency and Accountability

Global

Actors

Association for Computing Machinery

Tags

Bias, Redress, Accountability, Explainability, Data quality, Transparency, Testing

Resources


The ACM is the world’s largest computing society, bringing together researchers, educators and professionals. It has over 100 000 members worldwide, with Councils in Europe, India and China. The ACM has been issuing a Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct for decades and the most recent version came out in 2018, updating the 1992 edition. 
The Statement on Algorithmic Transparency and Accountability builds on the Code of Ethics and its purpose is to enable institutions to maximise the benefits of algorithmic decision making while minimising its risks. 
Seven principles are proposed, which are reproduced below:

  1. Awareness: Owners, designers, builders, users, and other stakeholders of analytic systems should be aware of the possible biases involved in their design, implementation, and use and the potential harm that biases can cause to individuals and society.

  2. Access and redress: Regulators should encourage the adoption of mechanisms that enable questioning and redress for individuals and groups that are adversely affected by algorithmically informed decisions.

  3. Accountability: Institutions should be held responsible for decisions made by the algorithms that they use, even if it is not feasible to explain in detail how the algorithms produce their results.

  4. Explanation: Systems and institutions that use algorithmic decision-making are encouraged to produce explanations regarding both the procedures followed by the algorithm and the specific decisions that are made. This is particularly important in public policy contexts.

  5. Data Provenance: A description of the way in which the training data was collected should be maintained by the builders of the algorithms, accompanied by an exploration of the potential biases induced by the human or algorithmic data-gathering process. Public scrutiny of the data provides maximum opportunity for corrections. However, concerns over privacy, protecting trade secrets, or revelation of analytics that might allow malicious actors to game the system can justify restricting access to qualified and authorized individuals.

  6. Auditability: Models, algorithms, data, and decisions should be recorded so that they can be audited in cases where harm is suspected.

  7. Validation and Testing: Institutions should use rigorous methods to validate their models and document those methods and results. In particular, they should routinely perform tests to assess and determine whether the model generates discriminatory harm. Institutions are encouraged to make the results of such tests public."

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