CRAFT: Critiquing and Rethinking Accountability, Fairness and Transparency (ACM FAT* 2020)

The growing research field dedicated to scrutinize algorithmic systems in terms of fairness, accountability and transparency increasingly reveals blind spots, despite its interdisciplinary focus. The initiators of CRAFT (Critiquing and Rethinking Accountability, Fairness and Transparency), a new program embedded in the ACM FAT* conference, point out limitations of existing research methods and call for more holistic approach when it comes to addressing societal problems associated with automated decision-making systems.


15 August 2019

CRAFT aims to “bring parties together that may not always share a common space or common values, and that are situated in different power structures” and therefore announced a call for submissions. CRAFT welcomes contributions that address key critiques of the field, including blind spots, omissions and alternative possibilities and that open new lines of inquiry, collaboration, and practice.

We very much endorse CRAFT’s holistic approach, as we have argued since AlgorithmWatch’s inception that automated decision-making processes must not be regarded as technological tools but need to be addressed as processes embedded in society, taking into account existing power imbalances and struggles. We also would like to emphasize that CRAFT explicitly invites journalists to participate in this discussion and share their experiences, insights and stories.

AlgorithmWatch co-founder and ED Matthias Spielkamp joined the selection committee and will serve as a reviewer of contributions. The ACM FAT* conference will take place in Barcelona, Spain, from 27 to 30 January 2020. This is the first time that the conference is held in Europe. The submission deadline for proposals is 12 September 2019.

You can find the call below and at

CRAFT Call (Panels, Workshops, Debates, Unconferences, ...)

proposal pre-registration: 9 September 2019
proposal submission: 12 September 2019
notification date: 3 October 2019

The ACM FAT* conference has predominantly focused on fairness, accountability, and transparency. The success of the field of fairness, accountability, and transparency has also attracted much critique and renewed attention to the limitations of achieving these goals in systems that implement statistical, machine learning, optimization, or autonomous computing techniques. A number of prominent studies acknowledge that addressing societal problems embedded in such computing systems may require more holistic approaches.

In the spirit of reflection and response, we invite academics of all disciplines and people representing different communities of practice (including journalism, advocacy, organizing, education, art, public authorities) to contribute to a program that will be subject to its own review process and that will be embedded in the ACM FAT* conference (the CRAFT call is very much inspired by the NeurIPS 2018 CRACT workshop.) This call invites contributions to that program in the form of workshops, panels, and other formats to:

  1. address critiques of the field of fairness, accountability, and transparency, such as its blind spots,omissions, or alternative possibilities that take a more holistic approach,
  2. open future lines of research, collaboration, and practice.

In addition to contributions that explore the problem space in greater depth and from broader perspectives, we particularly encourage proposals that explore solution spaces, indicate mechanisms for positive change, or open possibilities for a greater conversation around countering automated injustices. We value proposals focused on interaction among participants, and we look forward to formats that allow participants to explore starting assumptions, prior experiences, or competing values and to foster community building, shared knowledge production, and future engagement.

Note (Tutorials track): in addition to the CRAFT program, ACM FAT* also solicits proposals on the Tutorials track. Please note that CRAFT emphasizes reflection and critique and differs in important and subtle ways from Tutorials. By offering contributors a space to address blind spots and omissions, offer alternative approaches, and open new possibilities for the field, CRAFT seeks contributions that challenge. By contrast, Tutorials primarily educate and inform. We expect that CRAFT will feature unconventional ideas in engaging and diverse formats. Tutorials, by contrast, might include explainers regarding existing tools, overviews of bodies of literature, or best practices. Some proposals we receive under the CRAFT program may be more appropriate as proposals for Tutorials track, and vice-versa. In such cases, the Tutorial and CRAFT Co-chairs may transfer such proposals to the other program, in consultation with Coordinator(s). In the event that a CRAFT decision suggests your proposal for the Tutorials section of the ACM FAT* 2020 program, you will have one week to confirm whether you accept this choice.


Below we offer a set of themes, some of which are based on existing critiques, and others which point to new and emergent areas for research. Each theme is accompanied by a non-exhaustive list of questions that a proposal might seek to investigate, as a way of fleshing out the theme.

We think of these themes as “dimensions” rather than “categories”. We invite you to identify the primary theme to which your proposal connects. You are welcome to mention additional themes that are relevant, but please explicitly name the most prominent theme that informs your proposal.

Theme 1: Modeling and (Non-)Deployment

Theme 2: Values, Assumptions and Context

Theme 3: Generating Higher Order Critiques

Theme 4: Emerging Problems

Guidelines for CRAFT Contributors

Session Formats for Contributions

In the spirit of openness, we welcome contributions in a variety of different session formats. These may include, but are not limited to the following:

If you would like to propose another format or want to mix and match formats, please get in touch with us. In general, we welcome formats that differ from the conference program and avoid dominating the time with frontal presentations. We especially encourage proposals that bring together people from different backgrounds, be it people of different disciplinary, epistemological, institutional practices, as well as contributions that bring in and bridge different communities, movements, organizations, as well as positions.

Roles and Responsibilities for Contributors

Because we are open to as many formats as possible, we recognize that proposals may contain people who play different roles. Please name these roles in your proposal. For example, some potential roles to mention are:

Important: Note that you can submit no more than two contributions to CRAFT as a coordinator.

Important: If you are proposing a workshop, panel, poster session or another group format, you will need enough time to either circulate your own call or wrangle people who will participate. Your proposal should include a timeline for distributing a call, as well as for completing your final program.

Proposal Requirements

Your initial proposal should include sufficient information to evaluate it equally among other proposals. We provide a template here so as to streamline the proposal process, as well as the selection process.


Reviewing Proposals and Making Recommendations

Keep in mind that we are looking for proposals that:

In general, reviewers will look favorably upon proposals that demonstrate that you have thought through the steps needed to achieve the goals of your session. So please be as detailed as possible. A list of reviewers will be made available shortly.

Evaluation Criteria for CRAFT Session Proposals

CRAFT uses a single-blind process for review, which means the Coordinator(s) do not know who the reviewers are, but the reviewers know who the Coordinator(s) are. Each proposal will be evaluated by two people: one who is assigned to a particular thematic area, and one person who is outside the thematic area. To encourage reflexivity and support a range of perspectives and practices in the CRAFT program, our selection committee will reflect reviewers coming from different backgrounds, experiences, and expertise on automated decision systems.

The review process will focus on five basic areas:

  1. Organizational details: Is the proposal clear, sensible, and thorough?
  2. Rigor and quality: The potential for the topic of the proposal to generate stimulating discussions and useful results.
  3. Planning: The coordinators’ ability to demonstrate a well-organized process and plan for a contribution that is welcoming and fosters interactivity.
  4. Contribution and relevance: Is the proposal about critique and reflection? Does it address blind spots, omissions, or dominant approaches of FAT* work? Does it consider or offer alternative, holistic approaches? Does the proposal open new lines of inquiry, collaboration, or practice?
  5. Catering to the audience: Is there a clear and workable plan for facilitating a lively environment for discussion for all participants?

If multiple submissions are received on the same or similar topics, the organizers may be encouraged to merge them or differentiate them. Ideally, one or more of the organizers should have experience in organizing similar events.

Please note the CRAFT program is not a separate event from the ACM FAT* conference. All participants—whether CRAFT contributors, Tutorial presenters, Paper presenters, or other attendees—will benefit from participating in the entire conference program.

Roles and Responsibilities of CRAFT Co-chairs

As Co-Chairs of CRAFT, we will work with a selection committee (i.e., a set of reviewers) to guarantee a fair decision making process as well as a diligent process for participating in CRAFT. This includes due process in selection, timeliness, openness to critique and respect for others. Finally, we are responsible for making a final program in which all CRAFT activities are listed and made available to conference participants.

As Co-Chairs, we are committed to upholding the following throughout CRAFT:

CRAFT Co-Chairs

Please contact for any questions.