Decisions shaping our lives are increasingly delegated to algorithms. These data-trained models are determining everything from creditworthiness to hiring. Local governments are turning to algorithms to support decision-making functions that used to be performed by people. Here in Allegheny County, for example, algorithmic tools can help child welfare hotline workers decide when to investigate claims, assist judges in determining bail conditions, and drive decisions about which areas the police target for patrols.
These decision-making support systems offer the promise of predictive big data to support the less efficient, less informed, and sometimes-biased human.
The problem is, algorithms are not neutral. They reflect existing biases in our data and society and in the very questions asked of them. Algorithms can reinforce and even accelerate existing discrimination patterns.
Local agencies across the United States are deploying algorithms with little oversight and, sometimes, little awareness of the potential consequences. The Pittsburgh Task Force on Public Algorithms seeks to establish best practices and practical guidance for those municipalities seeking to ensure algorithmic accountability and equity for all residents.
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Who We Are
Task force members are drawn from local and national experts and community leaders. The Task Force is also served by a government advisory panel with designees from Allegheny County and the City of Pittsburgh.
Talk to Us
We welcome public comments to develop the task force's work. Do you have concerns about government use of algorithms? Has it affected you personally? Is there a specific area you want the Task Force to study? What should accountability by the government look like? How should communities be a part of this process? The comment period will be open until December 31, 2020.