Algorithmic Impact Assessment (AIA) framework

Report by AINow Institute: “Automated decision systems are currently being used by public agencies, reshaping how criminal justice systems work via risk assessment algorithms1 and predictive policing, optimizing energy use in critical infrastructure through AI-driven resource allocation, and changing our employment4 and educational systems through automated evaluation tools and matching algorithms.Researchers, advocates, and policymakers are debating when and where automated decision systems are appropriate, including whether they are appropriate at all in particularly sensitive domains.

Questions are being raised about how to fully assess the short and long term impacts of these systems, whose interests they serve, and if they are sufficiently sophisticated to contend with complex social and historical contexts. These questions are essential, and developing strong answers has been hampered in part by a lack of information and access to the systems under deliberation. Many such systems operate as “black boxes” – opaque software tools working outside the scope of meaningful scrutiny and accountability.8 This is concerning, since an informed policy debate is impossible without the ability to understand which existing systems are being used, how they are employed, and whether these systems cause unintended consequences. The Algorithmic Impact Assessment (AIA) framework proposed in this report is designed to support affected communities and stakeholders as they seek to assess the claims made about these systems, and to determine where – or if – their use is acceptable….

KEY ELEMENTS OF A PUBLIC AGENCY ALGORITHMIC IMPACT ASSESSMENT

1. Agencies should conduct a self-assessment of existing and proposed automated decision systems, evaluating potential impacts on fairness, justice, bias, or other concerns across affected communities;

2. Agencies should develop meaningful external researcher review processes to discover, measure, or track impacts over time;

3. Agencies should provide notice to the public disclosing their definition of “automated decision system,” existing and proposed systems, and any related self-assessments and researcher review processes before the system has been acquired;

4. Agencies should solicit public comments to clarify concerns and answer outstanding questions; and

5. Governments should provide enhanced due process mechanisms for affected individuals or communities to challenge inadequate assessments or unfair, biased, or otherwise harmful system uses that agencies have failed to mitigate or correct….(More)”.