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When individual choice inhibits choice:
Algorithm Ethics
Joerg Blumtritt
@jbenno
Social Media Week Berlin, 2013
This algorithm does not contain a value judgment
def eratosthenes(n):
multiples = []
for i in xrange(2, n+1):
if i not in multiples:
print i
for j in xrange(i*i, n+1, i):
multiples.append(j)

2
... the algorithm behind this map does!

3
"Urteilskraft überhaupt ist das
Vermögen, das Besondere als
enthalten unter dem
Allgemeinen zu denken."
(Judgment of all is the ability
to think the particular as
contained under the
universal.)
Kant, Kritik der Urteilskraft
4
The rise and fall of
"Werturteil" / "Value Judgment"

5
You don't see it, but medical imaging technolgy heavily
relies on value jugements. The bad thing: most of it
comes as a black box.

6
The classification algorithm you chose effects your
results. There is no true of false. Just the costs of
missclassification.

7
We have to make a decision for:
- the method
- which algorithm?
- boundary conditions
- which parameters?
- dealing with errors
- which risk funktion?

8
Property P

object does
not carry P

object carries P

P was not
observed

TRUE

false negative

P was observed

false positive

TRUE

9
10
Mistakes like a bounced check or a small overdraft have effectively
blacklisted more than a million low-income Americans from the
mainstream financial system for as long as seven years as a result of
little-known private databases that are used by the nation’s major
banks.

11
Algorithmic filter bubble: personalized search
decides what's relevant on your behalf.

12
Targeted Advertising

13
Digital Dualism: there is nothing virtual about
data.

14
Technology like our
smartphones are like a
telescope that makes the
data floating around us
visible.
So we have our world
augmented rather than
virtualized.
15
Becoming cyborgs.
Cyborg Rights

16
Developers:
• keep as many options open as possible
• give others a chance in changing the pre-sets
Educational systems:
• teach people to hack, to become curious about
seeing behind things.
Legislative bodies:
• make hacking things legal. Only what gets
hacked, gets tested.
17
18
Let us have sovereignty over
the things we have to deal with,
let us shape our surroundings
according to our ethics.
19
Joerg Blumtritt
@jbenno
Datarella GmbH
Oskar-von-Miller-Ring 36
80333 München
089/44 23 69 99
info@datarella.com

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Algorithm ethics

  • 1. When individual choice inhibits choice: Algorithm Ethics Joerg Blumtritt @jbenno Social Media Week Berlin, 2013
  • 2. This algorithm does not contain a value judgment def eratosthenes(n): multiples = [] for i in xrange(2, n+1): if i not in multiples: print i for j in xrange(i*i, n+1, i): multiples.append(j) 2
  • 3. ... the algorithm behind this map does! 3
  • 4. "Urteilskraft überhaupt ist das Vermögen, das Besondere als enthalten unter dem Allgemeinen zu denken." (Judgment of all is the ability to think the particular as contained under the universal.) Kant, Kritik der Urteilskraft 4
  • 5. The rise and fall of "Werturteil" / "Value Judgment" 5
  • 6. You don't see it, but medical imaging technolgy heavily relies on value jugements. The bad thing: most of it comes as a black box. 6
  • 7. The classification algorithm you chose effects your results. There is no true of false. Just the costs of missclassification. 7
  • 8. We have to make a decision for: - the method - which algorithm? - boundary conditions - which parameters? - dealing with errors - which risk funktion? 8
  • 9. Property P object does not carry P object carries P P was not observed TRUE false negative P was observed false positive TRUE 9
  • 10. 10
  • 11. Mistakes like a bounced check or a small overdraft have effectively blacklisted more than a million low-income Americans from the mainstream financial system for as long as seven years as a result of little-known private databases that are used by the nation’s major banks. 11
  • 12. Algorithmic filter bubble: personalized search decides what's relevant on your behalf. 12
  • 14. Digital Dualism: there is nothing virtual about data. 14
  • 15. Technology like our smartphones are like a telescope that makes the data floating around us visible. So we have our world augmented rather than virtualized. 15
  • 17. Developers: • keep as many options open as possible • give others a chance in changing the pre-sets Educational systems: • teach people to hack, to become curious about seeing behind things. Legislative bodies: • make hacking things legal. Only what gets hacked, gets tested. 17
  • 18. 18
  • 19. Let us have sovereignty over the things we have to deal with, let us shape our surroundings according to our ethics. 19
  • 20. Joerg Blumtritt @jbenno Datarella GmbH Oskar-von-Miller-Ring 36 80333 München 089/44 23 69 99 info@datarella.com