FDL Book Salon: The Black Box Society: The Secret Algorithms That Control Money and Information
FDL is in hiatus – this salon has been canceled and will be rescheduled when FDL returns.
Hidden algorithms drive decisions at major Silicon Valley and Wall Street firms. Thanks to automation, those firms can approve credit, rank websites, and make myriad other decisions instantaneously. But what are the costs of their methods? And what exactly are they doing with their digital profiles of us?
Leaks, whistleblowers, and legal disputes have shed new light on corporate surveillance and the automated judgments it enables. Self-serving and reckless behavior is surprisingly common, and easy to hide in code protected by legal and real secrecy. Even after billions of dollars of fines have been levied, underfunded regulators may have only scratched the surface of troublingly monopolistic and exploitative practices.
Drawing on the work of social scientists, attorneys, and technologists, The Black Box Society offers a bold new account of the political economy of big data. Data-driven corporations play an ever larger role in determining opportunity and risk. But they depend on automated judgments that may be wrong, biased, or destructive. Their black boxes endanger all of us. Faulty data, invalid assumptions, and defective models can’t be corrected when they are hidden.
Frank Pasquale exposes how powerful interests abuse secrecy for profit and explains ways to rein them in. Demanding transparency is only the first step. An intelligible society would assure that key decisions of its most important firms are fair, nondiscriminatory, and open to criticism. Silicon Valley and Wall Street need to accept as much accountability as they impose on others. (Harvard University Press)