, 7 tweets, 2 min read Read on Twitter
1) Cass Sunstein on algos in education, health care, and the criminal justice system: "One of the signal virtues of algorithms is that they present the relevant tradeoffs in an unprecedently clear light."
2) Here, Sunstein appears to be generalizing from Jon Kleinberg et al., Human Decisions and Machine Predictions (2017), which, despite its broad title, focuses on "the decision whether to allow pretrial release," which "turns on a single question: flight risk."
3) It's remarkable to me that he can minimize a growing literature on opacity of algorithms in actual use, instead choosing to praise their "unprecedented transparency."
4) Praising the theoretical, potential transparency of algorithmic decisionmaking, while ignoring the deep current problems of trade secrecy, obfuscation, and hypercomplexity in many existing algos, is a real problem.
5) Here are two leading articles on the topic: papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cf… (see especially p. 1368-71)
yalelawjournal.org/article/machin… ("A programmer’s conscious or unconscious bias might also influence algorithms’ predictions or statistical estimates."--the latter is not very transparent)
6) Yes, Sunstein is talking about a potential system, not the present. But to say the algos *could* be made transparent is a trivial claim; our real concern should be how to get there.
7) My recommendation is that Prof. Sunstein take a break from some contrarian reading material (eg ) & engage with mainstream debates on algorithmic transparency.
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