The Challenges with Designing Fair Algorithms

By Saul Levmore and Maristela Basso

Posted on November 30, 2018

Algorithmic technologies powered by artificial intelligence (AI) promise to generate tremendous benefit to society (i.e., advanced decision-making tools that address difficult medical challenges; route traffic with near-optimal efficiency; and, curate media feeds to stunning degrees of personalization). However, they also raise concerns about unintentional discrimination, bias, and harmful consequences (i.e., digital advertising campaigns that promote STEM-related work to men more frequently than women; the use of machine learning to spread disinformation through social media; and, facial recognition algorithms that inadvertently discriminate).
The Ethical Machine, a new initiative funded by the Shorenstein Center at the Harvard Kennedy School, explores the challenges of designing fair algorithms. The project’s website provides essays written by policy experts and academics who share their research and work about AI ethics.
Three TAP scholars have work featured on The Ethical Machine. Below are the introductory paragraphs with links to their full essays.
Algorithmic Bias or Fairness: The Importance of the Economic Context
By Catherine Tucker, Sloan Distinguished Professor of Management and Professor of Marketing at Massachusetts Institute of Technology Sloan School of Management


About the Authors

  • Saul Levmore
  • University of Chicago
  • 1111 E. 60th St., Room 423
    Chicago, IL 60637

  • Maristela Basso
  • University of São Paulo
  • Largo São Francisco, 95
    01005-010-Sao Paulo, SP-Brazil

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