The “Black box” of algorithms and automated decision-making

Authors Kathy Nickels
Date 12 December 2022

ABC has published this informative interactive explainer Wrenching open the black box that examines the “black box” of algorithms that are increasingly making decisions about our online and offline lives.

Using relevant examples such as Centrelink’s Robodebt and UK’s visa-processing algorithm, this explainer illustrates how some decision-making systems can be flawed.

The article highlights research and tools in development that can help us understand— and challenge — the decisions that algorithms make about us, as individuals, while others can illuminate bias and discrimination embedded within a system.

The article features:

  • Professor Sandra Wachter, Oxford Internet Institute and a tool that generates a number of “nearby possible worlds” that helps to illustrate how different variables (e.g. postcode, gender) could generate different outcomes.
  • Professor Paul Henman, ADM+S at the University of Queensland with comment on structural biases in algorithmic systems.
  • The Algorithmic audit – a transparency tool used to verify if the algorithm meets standards of fairness.
    Professor Ed Santow, former Australian human rights commissioner explains that Australia is lagging behind other parts of the world on digital rights protections.

This is a recommended read for better understanding decision-making systems, as well as the current research and recommendations seeking to make these systems more transparent.

Visit the explainer Wrenching open the black box published on ABC news.