Automation on the Move

With the ‘Automation on the Move’ project, AlgorithmWatch will help to challenge the untenable status quo for people on the move.

Irem Kurt for AlgorithmWatch, CC BY 4.0

Project manager

Fabio Chiusi
Research Associate

Systems based on Artificial Intelligence (AI) and automated decision-making (ADM) are increasingly being experimented with and used on migrants, refugees, and travelers. Too often, this is done without adequate democratic discussion or oversight. In addition, their use lacks transparency and justification to those who are subjected to these systems, as a growing body of literature and evidence shows. This needs to change.

With the Automation on the Move project, AlgorithmWatch will help to challenge this untenable status quo for people on the move. This means understanding how these ADM systems are actually being used, by whom, why, and what safeguards are lacking. We will then develop proposals on how to address shortcomings and advocate for adequate regulation, oversight, and enforcement.


1. Coalition building. Given the complexity of the issues raised by the adoption of automated systems for people on the move, we believe that we can best tackle the challenges collaboratively, rather than competing with existing research and advocacy efforts. In the first phase of the project, we will therefore reach out to civil society organizations, academics, and journalists at work in this field, to better inform our view of what’s actually missing from current research and investigative efforts, and help filling the gaps together.

2. In-depth analyses. Once the research agenda is set, we will go in-depth into the specifics of systems that are yet to be fully understood or problematized, the roots of the main trends we observed and the most important issues these sociotechnical systems currently raise for people on the move. We aim for maximum detail in the analyses we will produce — and for maximum collaboration.

3. Inclusion. The voices of individuals affected by ADM systems in migration have been neglected for too long. This is another untenable status quo we want to help challenge. We will therefore do our best to systematically listen to them, and provide them with a platform to make their needs heard. We do not only need a better picture of what’s out there; we also – and crucially – need a much better picture of the actual consequences produced by automated systems on people on the move.

4. Policy recommendations. We will produce policy recommendations for the use of AI and ADM in migration, based on the evidence gathered and in-depth analyses of the main trends emerging in the field.


In order to achieve those goals, the project will adopt a mixture of investigative journalism, desk and on-the-ground research, in-depth analysis of the available literature and use cases, and network building.

Project manager Fabio Chiusi will lead these efforts, which will be collaborative and coordinated with partner organizations whenever needed and possible, and ultimately published both on AlgorithmWatch and on partner organizations’ websites.

The project is funded by the Robert Bosch Stiftung.

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