Weapons of Math Retaliation
All these developments make it vitally important that we understand the moral values, mathematical simplifications and biases that are encoded in algorithms. In addition to a public debate, we need tools to arm ourselves against detrimental decision-making by algorithms. Legal standards that limp along behind the commercial market are not enough.
That is why medialab SETUP is cooperating with artists and experts in a research programme that we have entitled Civil Weapons of Math Retaliation. The programme is meant to uncover the moral implications of algorithmic decision-making and ensure a fairer distribution of the power of moralising algorithms. That way people will not only have the right to object to a decision taken by an algorithm but will also be able to use algorithms to empower themselves.
We will explore issues of autonomy, human dignity, and the desirability of algorithmic decision-making in a series of four design research projects. We will present two of our results on 25 May during the Living with Algorithms debate, organised by SETUP and the Rathenau Instituut.
Designer Isabel Mager is responsible for one of the four projects. On 25 May, she will introduce us to the world of recruitment algorithms.
A growing number of companies are choosing to let algorithms screen job candidates. One of the leaders of the recruitment algorithm industry is HireVue, a company worth millions of euros that has Unilever and Goldman Sachs as clients. HireVue assesses videos of job candidates on word choice, tone of voice and micro-expressions that are said to reveal our true emotions.