The Threat of Algocracy: Reality, Resistance and Accommodation

Philosophy and Technology 29 (3):245-268 (2016)
Authors
John Danaher
University College, Galway
Abstract
One of the most noticeable trends in recent years has been the increasing reliance of public decision-making processes on algorithms, i.e. computer-programmed step-by-step instructions for taking a given set of inputs and producing an output. The question raised by this article is whether the rise of such algorithmic governance creates problems for the moral or political legitimacy of our public decision-making processes. Ignoring common concerns with data protection and privacy, it is argued that algorithmic governance does pose a significant threat to the legitimacy of such processes. Modelling my argument on Estlund’s threat of epistocracy, I call this the ‘threat of algocracy’. The article clarifies the nature of this threat and addresses two possible solutions. It is argued that neither solution is likely to be successful, at least not without risking many other things we value about social decision-making. The result is a somewhat pessimistic conclusion in which we confront the possibility that we are creating decision-making processes that constrain and limit opportunities for human participation.
Keywords Big Data  Algocracy  Political Legitimacy  Human Enhancement  Artificial Intelligence  Technology and Governance
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DOI 10.1007/s13347-015-0211-1
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References found in this work BETA

The Tacit Dimension.Michael Polanyi - 1966 - London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.
Pure Epistemic Proceduralism.Fabienne Peter - 2008 - Episteme: A Journal of Social Epistemology 5 (1):33-55.
Epistemic Democracy: Generalizing the Condorcet Jury Theorem.Christian List & Robert E. Goodin - 2001 - Journal of Political Philosophy 9 (3):277–306.

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Citations of this work BETA

Toward an Ethics of AI Assistants: An Initial Framework.John Danaher - forthcoming - Philosophy and Technology:1-25.
The Ghost in the Legal Machine: Algorithmic Governmentality, Economy, and the Practice of Law.Adam Harkens - 2018 - Journal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society 16 (1):16-31.

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